In a U-turn that might enter diplomatic annals as among the most bizarre, the United Nations’ special envoy on Syria Staffan di Mistura is forecasting an end of the war and the holding of elections there next year. In a BBC radio interview yesterday, di Mistura more than implied that the international community must now accept the prolongation of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule and the holding of elections by what is left of his administration. Di Mistura’s new position is in sharp contrast with the analysis he offered last year when he explicitly ruled out “any possibility of holding elections under the present regime.”
Spelling out his new analysis yesterday, di Mistura speculated that the Islamic State will lose its last strongholds in Syria by October, paving the way for “free and fair elections.”
“What we are seeing is, in my opinion, the beginning of the end of this war… what we need to make sure is that this becomes also the beginning of peace. And that is where the challenge starts at this very moment,” he said.