Three negotiations are now in process concerning the Middle East. One is bringing together some of Syria's rebel groups and the government of President Bashar Assad. The second involves Iran on one side of the table and six world powers on the other. The third, theoretically, will eventually involve Israel's negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, although at the moment both parties are negotiating with the United States.
What all three have in common is, first, the sense of unreality surrounding them, and related to that, the feeling that diplomacy is not so much being used as an instrument of statecraft as it is a substitute for statecraft of any kind.
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