The U.S. and Russia have managed to reach an agreement on a ceasefire in Syria.
A ceasefire between the warring parties, the opposition forces and the Syrian government’s army will come into effect starting Feb. 27. From this date on, all military operations will be conducted exclusively against the terrorists’ positions, and the U.S. and Russia are supposed to be in contact with one another with regard to observation of the ceasefire and the delineation of the territories.
The parties took quite a long time to make it to this step, and Russia’s initiative repeatedly ran into obstacles from our “Western partners.” Now that the deadline of Feb. 27 has been set, the ceasefire agreement can be called a diplomatic victory by Russia.
Indeed, the West insisted on a different date, March 1. It’s obvious that the U.S. simply needed more time to withdraw the opposition forces it supports to convenient positions. Now it’s down to just a few days, and the implementation of the ceasefire agreements depends on the U.S. position.
Bashar Assad already made his move by announcing his readiness to hold parliamentary elections in April, showing that the Syrian leadership supports a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Therefore, the ceasefire is a litmus test that will show which of the parties is really for dialogue and which wants to fuel war.
But the opposition has rejected Bashar Assad’s “good will” gesture, citing the current military situation in the country. In other words, the opposition doesn’t really want to solve problems at the negotiating table. Indeed, it foolishly alludes to war at a time when the international community is already aiming for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis and the first steps have been taken. The opposition needs a ceasefire in order to fortify its position and to save up its strength for further combat with government troops.
However, there are other players in the Middle East affected by the negotiations between Russia and the United States. That is to say, of course, Turkey. The ceasefire should cool down Ankara and rid Turkey’s leadership of the idea of an intervention. The ceasefire agreement also applies to Turkey, which should stop shelling the Syrian border.
For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s a complete collapse of his entire foreign policy. Turkey’s actions aiming to prevent the unification of Syrian and Turkish Kurds near the Turkish border are now futile. Turkey’s other objective in the Middle East – toppling the Assad regime – also becomes infeasible.
The Turkish-Syrian conflict is entering a new phase in which the actions of the Kurds, not those of Ankara, will determine the future course of events. A turning point is coming for them when the Syrian-Turkish border is taken back under control, allowing the Turkish lands inhabited by Kurds to unite with Western Kurdistan.
If Ankara tries once again to start a fight with the Syrian Kurds, the international community may at a minimum regard it as a violation of the ceasefire, if not as aggression against Syria.
But it’s still too early to celebrate. The agreement between the U.S. and Russia might set in motion a political process to resolve the Syrian crisis and begin new negotiations in the Geneva and Vienna formats.
But it’s only for as long as the ceasefire holds in Syria, and it could be disrupted at any time if the plans of our “Western partners” change dramatically. No sooner had Obama and Putin managed to reach an agreement than the “party of war,” as represented by the CIA and the Pentagon, stepped up its activity in Washington.
The “hawks” immediately started talking about some mysterious “Plan B” regarding Syria without letting anyone in on the details of the plan. All these facts point to an intention by the U.S. to play a double game, and for our country such a policy by Washington raises concerns. Implementing the ceasefire is jeopardized, and the U.S. position bespeaks its confidence in the failure of the ceasefire.
From the situation in Ukraine, we know perfectly well that it’s only possible to trust them when we have a reserve tank division behind our back, and preferably more than one. Besides, it’s still unknown whether Erdogan’s temper tantrum will end or whether the Turkish leader will seek out new ways to solve his Middle Eastern problems.