G8 Summit 2013: After Discussing Syria, Will There Be Time For Anything Else?

The two-day G8 Summit begins Monday, and while the original purpose of the talks was to focus on economic issues, conflicts in Syria are set to dominate the the majority of the discussion. The summit is taking place in Sligo, a city in Northern Ireland, and the mood surrounding it is much edgier than usual as the result of a variety of issues: revelations that the United Kingdom was listening in on diplomats at the G20 Summit, Russia’s backing of the Assad regime, and Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA surveillance in the United States, among others. After all these points of contention are confronted, the future economic alliance between the European Union and the United States will be discussed. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said, "The whole point of this meeting ... is to fire up our economies and drive growth and prosperity around the world. ... There's no better way than by launching these negotiations on a landmark deal between the European Union and the United States of America.”

Thus, the G8 Summit’s potential effectiveness may be determined solely by whether or not the controversies are taken care of during the summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday against the arming of Syrian rebels "who kill their enemies and eat their organs," referencing a video that purports to show a cannibalistic rebel fighter. Russia and the U.S. are thus at a standstill over the Syrian civil war. Russia’s relationship with Syria’s government has a long history that dates back to the Cold War, and this creates an incredibly dicey situation for the G8 Summit.

Russia and China have blocked the other members of the UN Security Council, in order to stop any action that would interfere with the Assad regime. As a result the success of the G8 Summit will be judged on these foreign issues in addition to the new economic policies set in motion. In a move that is quite ironic, a new and unrelated peace initiative has been approved by the UK, U.S., and Russia. With the scale of these various points of conflict all over the globe, the world at large will be closely watching the tiny town of Sligo over the next few days.