The recent Kerry-Lavrov initiative to end the conflict in Syria through talks was met with skepticism among those who believe that the United States and Russia will bring their own agendas to the table, that Bashar al-Assad will refuse to step down, and that the Syrian opposition is too fragmented to strike a deal. But those are common problems, and successful talks can be -- and have been -- started under just such conditions.
In a recent article, Bilal Saab and Andrew Tabler argued that negotiations between the Assad regime and the rebels would only prolong the war in Syria. In fact, conflicts end in mediation much more often than they end in decisive military defeat -- and those conflicts are less likely to revert to war. The choice in Syria is whether to start talks now, or wait until even more of the country is in ruins.