Abstract: The Astana process has deprived the Syrian opposition of an efficient bargaining chip in their negotiations with the regime for a political transition in Syria. In comparison, the Geneva discussions appear to have lost all of their potential to produce a credible and sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict. As the perspective of a political transition without Assad grows slimmer with each passing day, the West is leaning towards supporting a decentralized post-war Syria. Locally elected civilian councils offer an alternative to Damascus for donor countries.  This policy brief measures the prospects for achieving international and Syrian opposition objectives in the course of the transition.