China just got their exemption from the US imposed sanctions on Iran. Turkey also has received a waiver. Expect talks to move quickly as Iran reacts to the sanctions. The possibility of Iran not backing down is demonstrated by the fact of Saudi Arabia re-opening its pipeline to Iraq in an effort to circumvent the Strait of Hormuz. The United Arab emirates is nearing completion of a pipeline with a similar design.

The exclusion of Iran and Saudi Arabia works to the advantage of the US in that it prevents a basis or means for positive diplomatic relations to emerge between those two nations. Iran has invited Saudi Arabia to the meeting of non-aligned powers (yes, the movement started during the Cold War). Iran will have a meeting, held in Istanbul, on July 3 with techinical experts from other nations. Sec. of State Clinton has warned Iran to take action to avoid further sanctions. Republicans in the US Congress are seizing on the waiver granted to China as an opportunity to toughen the provisions of the NDAA, which is the bill containing the sanctions.

Certainly, it is impossible for Syria to return to its previous state. Saudi Arabia may have been angered by US acceptance of the Egyptian Arab Spring, but is willing to back an insurgency against another Sunni regime. If the outcome of the Swiss talks is merely Assad's removal, what assurances will the rebels have of stability which will prevent a military coup? Because in Egypt the military was a participant in the Arab Spring, Syria differs in that the military may not be a guarantor of stability in a post-revolutionary setting. A regional-based approach would unite the oil exporting nations in a scheme to ensure regional political stability, including in Syria where a return to peace may mean a long-term political process of national reconciliation.


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