Mr. Obama probably could force the measures Mr. Brahimi is seeking by presenting Mr. Assad with the choice of accepting them or enduring U.S. air strikes. That he refuses to consider options between Mr. Kerry’s feckless diplomacy and an Iraq-style invasion only ensures that the Geneva 2 conference will fail and that the atrocities will continue,” writes the Washington Post in an editorial.

“Syria is effectively divided, and none of the military forces in the field appear capable of reuniting it under their control. Negotiated settlements to end wars tend to reflect the balance of forces in play; the idea of Assad stepping aside for a consensus-based national-unity government is quite at odds with the current balance of geopolitical and military forces. For that reason, it is unlikely to be achieved at Geneva II,” writes Joshua Landis for al-Jazeera.

“The role of foreign Islamist extremists in the Syrian opposition has tended to obscure the role of foreigners on the regime side. Yet there are likely as many or more foreigners fighting with Assad than against him. This issue should be addressed in the international Geneva II negotiations currently under way, especially if the regime attempts to focus the discussions on “foreign terrorists” supposedly conspiring with Western and regional governments against Syria,” writes Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.