A view shows a street with damaged buildings in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district, June 2, 2013. Image Credit: REUTERS

Looking at the prevailing situation in Syria, one may wonder whether the Sunni world is better-off today than it was two years ago. Going by the American-Israeli hypothesis of the Sunni-Shiite divide being the main threat to the Arab world, the answer is obviously no.

The Arab uprisings made some analysts suddenly wake up and praise the Arab world for having overnight discovered the virtues of western democracy. Others were more cautious, warning of consequences, raising some doubts about spontaneity and, more importantly, insisting that each situation be looked at individually.

Three years on, only three countries are trying to manage the fruits of the revolution: Libya, with the disastrous situation everyone knows; Egypt, which is getting into deeper economic difficulties due to the incompetence of the Muslim Brotherhood; and Tunisia, which is still hesitating and where there is hope as long as local actors give preference to the country’s stability and cohesion.

Syria, on the other hand, has turned into a regional conflict. Inspired analysts believed that Bashar Al Assad would nicely hand over power to the people expressing a wish for change. To speed-up the process, some states gave arms and money to the rebels, whereas western diplomats cut-off all ties with the regime.

Yet, two years (and more than 80,000 dead) later, Al Assad is still there. The rebellion, like it or not, will not prevail. Iran and its local ally Hezbollah are more present than ever. Russia will not repeat the Libyan mistake and jihadist terrorism will not make it. To believe that “the more moderate rebels need help”, as the Economist writes, just misses-out two elements: Nobody is able to control the distribution of arms and whatever happens, Russia will stand firm. The European agreement on lifting arms embargo is at best a negotiating tool as everybody supplies arms through different channels.

Fighting, thus, did not work and diplomacy was not pursued. Yet, diplomacy is not about whom one likes and whom one does not. It is to cope with facts and in that respect, the anti-Al Assad coalition has got it all wrong.

In this context, the planned Geneva 2 conference appears to be the first acknowledgement of reality.

First, Al Assad’s departure will have to be negotiated. He knows he will never recover his former grip on the whole country, but power has to be transferred in an orderly manner, which only Russia and the US can ensure. Nobody knows if and when Geneva 2 will actually materialise, with the Syrian opposition deciding to boycott the meeting. Yet, the simple fact that the conference is being planned for next month is good news.

Second, Iran is more than ever a full regional player. It started in Iraq — thanks to the subliminal American policy — and is now active in Syria. A best way to live with a neighbour one does not like is to get rid of it — as long as your means allow. One should find, otherwise, a mutually acceptable agreement and initiate a discussion. In the same way, Hezbollah has become an unavoidable player in Lebanon. Iran’s influence will not be diminished through Israeli air-strikes. Diplomacy, once again, is not the art of dealing with others based on likes and dislikes.

Elsewhere in the region, it is time to defuse the bombs that could explode any time. Lebanon is an obvious case. In Turkey, hardly half of the population supports Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy — see the recent unrests in Adama and the Hatay province. As for Israel, it is not sure it is in its interest to face a major confrontation with Russia — not to mention the regional jihadist threat.

A last and somewhat unexpected consequence of a possible ceasefire is the anticipated return of about 2,000 jihadists to their countries of origin. They have started to flee Syria and will now return, either in the region or in North Africa or even Europe — which obviously will not welcome them.

However, on the whole, the worst consequence of this absurd fight is the suffering of the Syrian people, a lost generation which will have to relearn how to live together. Nobody will defend Al Assad’s regime, but the way the international community has tackled the matter is shameful. Some argue there will be nothing else to expect from diplomacy in a country which has a history of confrontation, but has diplomacy been seriously considered so far? Let us finally employ it in Geneva 2.

Luc Debieuvre is a French essayist and a lecturer at Iris (Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques) and the Faco Law University of Paris.