In a joint statement, the U.S. and Russia have announced an agreement to enact temporary ceasefire terms and to urge a ceasefire to begin on Feb. 27, between both the Assad regime and Syrian opposition in the war in Syria.
The Assad regime, the Syrian opposition and the extremist Islamic State group continue a three-way war in Syria. In this mix, Russia is backing the Assad regime and the U.S. is backing the Syrian opposition.
The agreement is an attempt to persuade the different sides supported by the U.S. and Russia to implement a temporary ceasefire. This paper wants this U.S.-Russia agreement to be the driving force for a temporary ceasefire and the catalyst for the resumption of meaningful peace talks.
However, it appears it will not be easy to fully enforce the temporary ceasefire as outlined in the agreement. This is because, over the course of the war, many opposing forces have taken shape, developing a complicated enemy-ally calculus.
This agreement targets the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition, not the Islamic State group or the Nusra Front – a group affiliated with the international terrorist organization al-Qaida. U.S.-led volunteer U.N. forces, the Assad regime and Russia will continue to strike at the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front.
However, in real terms, the Syrian opposition is working together with the Nusra Front against the Assad regime in certain areas, making it difficult to differentiate between the two. It is believed that the Russians – under the pretext of rooting out the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations – are providing indirect support for the Assad regime through airstrikes on the Syrian opposition.
Responding to calls for an agreement, the Assad regime and leaders of the Syrian opposition have – on the surface – shown signs of consensus. However, the Syrian opposition has refrained from giving a formal response, a precaution against any future Russian air strikes. Whether Russia will implement the agreement faithfully and quit bombing the Syrian opposition appears to be a pivotal factor for the success of the ceasefire. Russia’s restraint is being sought.
The war in Syria has become such a quagmire because the U.S., Russia and other nations in the region have intervened with ulterior agendas in order to secure influence in the Middle East and, ultimately, these same nations have been passive in working together toward stability in Syria.
Now, the first priority must be for concerned nations to throw out their immediate personal agendas and help snap the Syrian people from the jaws of the worst humanitarian crisis of this era. Looking at it in this light, there is an even more apparent need for responsibility from the U.S. and Russia.