By Olzhas Auyezov ASTANA (Reuters) - With its show of military force, Russia changed the tide of the Syrian civil war. It is finding the next phase -- brokering an end to the fighting -- a tougher proposition. A round of Syria peace talks sponsored by Russia ended on Thursday with no joint communique, usually the minimum outcome of any diplomatic negotiation, and saw opposing Syrian groups exchanging angry tirades at each other and the brokers. With no concrete progress to report, media representatives at the talks venue in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, were so hungry for a scrap of news that at one point a crowd formed around an Arabic speaker who they thought was a participant in the talks. He turned out to be another journalist. Western diplomats, who say Russian President Vladimir Putin's campaign of air strikes has worsened the conflict, have, in private, reacted to Russia's tribulations as a peacemaker with variations on the phrase: "We told you so." Russia proposed a series of negotiations in the Kazakh capital Astana late last year with the expectation that, as the predominant outside power in Syria following its military intervention, it could break a deadlock that had defied the repeated efforts of the big Western powers and U.N. mediators. Moscow's peace drive started hopefully, with the first Astana meeting in January. The Syrian rebels and government came together for the first time in 9 months, and agreement was reached to consolidate a shaky ceasefire. But by the second round this week, things had gone downhill. The Syrian rebels debated until the eleventh hour about whether to attend at all, finally sending a smaller delegation which arrived in the Kazakh capital a day late. Russia's efforts were hampered by the deep enmity between the rival Syrian sides, but also by contradictions among its co-sponsors. One of them, Turkey, is fiercely opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia and the third co-sponsor, Iran, are Assad's staunchest allies. Syrian government negotiator Bashar Jaafari said on Thursday that peace talks in Astana had not produced a communique because of the "irresponsible" late arrival of rebel participants and their Turkish backers which delayed the joint session by a day. He also criticized the rebels and Turkey for downgrading their delegations from the previous meeting. "Turkey cannot ignite the fire and at the same time act as a firefighter," he told a briefing after the talks. The rebels, in turn, accused the Syrian government and Iran of routinely violating the ceasefire and Russia of failing to enforce it. "We know that the Russians have a problem with those for whom they are guarantors," rebel negotiator Yahya al-Aridi told reporters, referring to Tehran and Assad's forces. A STEP TOO FAR According to two sources - a senior French diplomat and an official present for the talks from a country not directly participating - one of the main reasons progress had slowed were Moscow's attempts to expand the talks beyond the ceasefire and discuss political solutions to the Syrian crisis. Moscow has offered the Syrians a draft of a new constitution, Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentiev told reporters on Thursday. He also said the joint Russia-Turkey-Iran ceasefire monitoring task force agreed upon in Astana in January could in the future expand its activities to include a political settlement of the crisis. But the sources said other parties resisted those efforts, because they were still more focused on the fighting on the ground in Syria. Iran, according to one of the sources, wants to push on with territorial gains achieved by its allies in Syria, while Turkey is hell-bent on not allowing any Kurds near its border. The rebels also indicated they wanted the talks to focus on more down-to-earth matters such as air strikes on their territory - which they said Russia has promised to stop - and release of prisoners. "We did not come here to make incorrect political decisions," said rebel negotiator Mohammad Alloush. CAGED PARROTS Even the hosts for the talks, the Kazakh government, downgraded their presence. A deputy foreign minister welcomed the delegates instead of the minister himself, as was the case in January. The rebels sent 9 people, instead of the 15-person delegation that attended the previous round. Organizers cordoned off most of the lobby of the Rixos Hotel, venue for the meeting, so negotiators could step out and have tea or coffee at tables surrounded by plants and parrots in cages. Several ambassadors from Middle Eastern countries kept walking in and out of a conference room where the talks were being held behind closed doors, but mostly spent their time in the hotel's Irish pub, though they did not appear to drink any alcohol. United Nations special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura attended the first round of talks where he stressed that Syria's political transition must be discussed in Geneva rather than in Astana. He did not attend the second round, traveling to Moscow instead for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Originally, Thursday's talks were billed as a low-key technical meeting. The co-sponsors then upgraded it last Friday, raising expectations that real progress could be achieved. A successful outcome would have handed a PR coup to Russia right before U.N.-led talks on Syria in Geneva on Feb.23. But instead, Lavrentiev, the Russian negotiator, was left trying to explain why the latest round had ended in acrimony. "The level of mutual distrust is rather high and there were many mutual accusations, but I think we must keep moving forward every time, step by step," he said. (Additional reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva in ASTANA and John Irish in PARIS; Editing by Christian Lowe and Peter Graff)
The investigation may pertain to her attendance of the 2021 Met Gala. Her office told Insider they're "confident that this matter will be dismissed."
- Business Insider
Liz Cheney resurfaced Paul Gosar's deleted tweet supporting Donald Trump's call to terminate the US Constitution: 'Time to condemn Trump yet?'
Donald Trump suggested the "termination" of rules and regulations in the Constitution that led to disputed voter fraud in the 2020 election.
- The Daily Beast
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesPolice and medical personnel were called to the Texas home of Sen. Ted Cruz Tuesday night after reports of a 14-year-old girl at the property suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds to her arms.The teen was taken to the hospital shortly after. It’s unclear who the girl was—though Cruz does have two daughters: Catherine, 11, and Caroline, 14.In a response to The Daily Beast, a representative for his office said: “This is a family matter, and thankf
- Yahoo Canada Style
The designer showed off a high-fashion look in her latest Instagram post.
Kate Middleton just rocked a chic new hairstyle, and we have a feeling it was to complement her stunning tiara. This week, the Princess of Wales attended a Diplomatic Corps reception at Buckingham Palace alongside her husband, Prince William. The royal opted against her signature hairstyle, which typically includes beachy waves and a middle part. Instead, she rocked a sleek ’do that accentuated her tiara. (Coincidence? We think not.) Victoria Jones/Pool/Getty Images Since the tiara sat about an
- The Advocate
A representative for the GOP senator said there weren't any serious injuries.
- The Hill
Police are warning the public as a spike in violent "bank jugging" robberies is on the rise across Southern California, especially during the holidays.
Kirstie Alley Only ‘Recently Discovered’ Her Cancer Before She Died—Here’s the Form She Was Diagnosed With
Her friend and co-star John Travolta called her one of the "most special relationships I’ve ever had."
Elizabeth Hurley, 56, shows off her incredibly toned abs as she poses in a string bikini for an IG photo. Her fitness routine includes logging. (Yes, logging.)
- Fox News
People's Choice Awards: Shania Twain and Olivia Wilde go sheer on red carpet ahead of music icon's honors
Shania Twain, Olivia Wilde and Heidi Klum walked the red carpet where Lizzo and Ryan Reynolds were to be honored at 48th People's Choice Awards hosted by Kenan Thompson.
Herschel Walker's son says Trump called his father for months demanding that he run, while 'everyone with a brain' begged him not to
Herschel Walker was dogged during his Georgia Senate campaign by allegations including that he paid for women to have abortions.
- Town & Country
The Princess of Wales paired the red dress with the Lotus Flower Tiara and Queen Elizabeth's diamond earrings for Tuesday night's reception at Buckingham Palace. See the look.
- The Wrap
‘The View': Whoopi Mocks Possible $1.6 Million Fines of Trump Organization After Tax Fraud Conviction: ‘I Could Pay That!’
Whoopi joked she might even be able to afford the civil suit against Trump
- Ukrayinska Pravda
Up to 10 Tu-22M bombers have disappeared from the Russian Dyagilevo military airbase in Ryazan Oblast. Source: Mark Krutov, journalist of the Russian editorial office of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, on Twitter Details: Krutov published the pictures taken on 7 December.
How Kate Middleton and Prince William Broke Their Social Media Silence After the 'Harry & Meghan' Trailer Release
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s much-hyped Boston tour took a bit of a backseat to the trailers for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix documentary, but the Prince and Princess of Wales made their first social media posts following the 'Harry & Meghan' trailer release on Monday particularly interesting—and telling.
Princess Diana’s Former Butler Has a Harsh Suggestion for How Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Should Be Punished Over Bombshell Docuseries
Royalists are foaming at the mouth just waiting for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Netflix docuseries to premiere. They are ready to criticize the Sussexes at every turn, but Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell wants to be heard ahead of the drama. He went to the thorn in the Sussexes’ side, Piers Morgan, to […]
“Oh my god, now I have to live with this,” the actress — who died on Monday at age 71 — told Larry King in an interview in 2010
- LA Times
Five women, including two "Cosby Show" actors, have filed a sexual assault lawsuit against disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and TV companies.
- The New York Times
Tuesday’s conviction of the Trump Organization on charges of financial impropriety, coupled with the loss by former President Donald Trump’s candidate in the Georgia Senate runoff, marked one of the worst days for Trump since he announced his presidential candidacy roughly three weeks ago. First came the events in the city where he was born and raised. In New York, the jury that heard the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg deliberated over two days before returning guilty ve
- Country Living
Prince William is very "angry" over the Sussexes Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, and the royal shave shifted to "genuine combat mode."