Will US-Russia fragile deal on Syria survive?

TEHRAN, Sep. 10 (MNA) – Moscow emphasizes it will not hold joint air strikes with Washington and the two sides will only coordinate missions and targets.

In early hours of Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared in front of media representatives and announced that they had finally reached an agreement on ceasefire in Syria. The surprising news came out just less than a week after US President Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin failed to reach any deal on the sidelines of G20 summit in China. Russia represented Syrian government and its supporters in the negotiations while the United States represented so-called ‘moderate’ terrorist groups fighting in Syria, connected to Al-Qaeda.

The deal which is clinched after months of negotiations between Russia and the United States is so fragile that both diplomats in several cases during the joint press conference cast doubt on its endurance. According to the reports, the deal includes seven days of ceasefire scheduled to be placed on Monday and on the condition that the ‘cessation of hostilities’ can succeed to last for seven days, Moscow and Washington will then launch airstrike against terrorist positions on which they have reached an agreement. Russia has of course emphasized that the air strikes will not be joint missions and the two sides will only coordinate missions and targets.

The fact that neither sides is confident that the deal would last for even a week is due to the prior experience when the hold of fire on both sides led to an attack by terrorist groups inflicting casualties on pro-Syrian government forces. The Americans, however, allege that Assad forces had also breached the ceasefire then; a claim they never provided evidence for and is similar to other claims by US officials accusing Syrian government. Even on Friday night in Geneva, John Kerry repeated such previous allegations where he was describing how the ceasefire would work; “that should put an end to the barrel bombs, an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods.”

‘Barrel bombs’, ‘chemical weapons’ ‘civilians’, ‘humanitarian crisis’, etc. are terms US officials use frequently to add to their pressure on Assad and depict their campaign in Syria as humanitarian. But the facts and figures prove vice versa. A recent brutal and ruthless beheading of a teenage refugee by Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki group which is supported by the US was heartrending and stirred much controversy around the world, however Washington refused to comment on the issue. Over the years of conflict and war in Syria which has displaced millions of people, the United States has failed to address the refugee crisis properly and more often has paid lip service to it. Aleppo is also no different story and after five years of fight in the country and with all brutalities and pressures armed groups have had on civilians in the second largest Syrian city, the human rights outcries and humanitarian concerns just appeared when Russia and Iran-backed Syrian Army forces could impose siege on terrorists in the city. Noteworthy enough, a recent report has shown that Obama administration has sold the highest amount of weapons to Saudi Arabia which is supporting terrorists in Syria and has invaded Yemen. The humanitarian concerns of US thus are nothing but word game.

During the talks to the media in Geneva, despite John Kerry’s concerns, Russian FM Lavrov confirmed that his government has informed Bashar Assad of the details of the deal and that he had accepted the terms. In the meantime, State Secretary John Kerry called on armed groups in Aleppo to ‘distance themselves from ISIL and Al-Nusra’ – which has rebranded itself as Fath al-Sham Front. Al-Nusra has been under support of Washington as moderate fighters but it turned out later to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Syria. Almost everyone admits that it is very confusing to define who is who in Syria and armed groups fighting against Assad are also in some cases fighting against one another and even unite against each other! So in such a situation, the fact that US has sufficed to only invite armed groups to detach themselves from their allies doesn’t seem to be practical as the groups have proved to be irrational actors and the scene is so complicated that it is hard to believe that they can hold the fire either on Syrian Army or other groups. The previous ceasefire, however, brings this possibility to mind, too, that Washington is well aware that armed fighters and terrorist groups are not easily giving up with their ideological affiliations and no separation from Al-Nusra or ISIL would happen there on the ground, but the US-brokered ceasefire will buy them time to rearm and reorganize their forces to continue their proxy war on Bashar Assad government on behalf of the United States and its regional allies.

Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh has done his MA in North American Studies and his focus has been on US policies towards the Middle East. He is also English Chief Editor of Mehr News Agency.

News Code 119629


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