The Game Saudi Arabia and Iran Are Playing in Syria

Regional powers engage in a proxy at a bloody Mideast crossroads.

 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fierce fighting in Damascus province between rebels and troops backed by pro-regime militias and fighters from Lebanon's Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah.

"They almost wanted a magic solution, and this is as close as they're going to get," the former ambassador says.

"Iran has analyzed that [in] holding direct talks with the Obama administration, the minimum would be that further sanctions would be avoided," says Kahlili. "Now the White House has the hope that something could come about."

"At the end of the day, it's not going to stop the nuclear program," he says.

Former ambassador Hof says these talks could lead to some good in Syria.

"If there is a nuclear deal between Iran and the West, one that removes the possibility of an Israeli military campaign against Iran, it is possible that the struggle for Syria involving external players may wind down," he says. "But Iran will always support Hezbollah in Lebanon in any event, even if it becomes a peaceful political movement."

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