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The Geneva II conference on Syria, which is set to begin in Switzerland Wednesday, is unlikely to achieve its goal of forming a transitional authority with full executive powers. But what it can do is launch a much-needed political process and, more important, produce a cease-fire agreement between government and opposition forces. Of course, Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which has become a potent force on the ground, and the Nusra Front will not and should not be represented in Montreux – not least because they will not feel bound by any agreement that may be reached there. The imposition of a cease-fire is critical, because the fighting serves the interests of the most brutal elements on both sides of the Syrian conflict. This includes the core leadership of President Bashar Assad's regime, which is now supported by Hezbollah and Iraqi militias, as much as it does ISIS, which is composed largely of non-Syrians unconcerned about rebuilding the country or safeguarding the future of the Syrian people.A cease-fire would enable the FSA and its allies to coordinate action with units of the regular army against Al-Qaeda-linked bands, which would undoubtedly seek to sustain the violence.
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