It takes an expert to explain the identity, evolution, affiliation and the objectives of the different groups battling in Syria. The history of groups bringing together major international actors involved in the conflict is less complicated but also interesting.
On February 4, 2012 the UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on Syria as Russia and China vetoed the text which supported the Arab League’s proposed peace plan. It thus became clear that Moscow and Peking were not going to allow the West the freedom of action it enjoyed in Libya. (Russia and China had abstained on UNSC Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011 on Libya.) Okumaya devam et →
The need for US-Russian cooperation for the resolution of Middle East problems, prominently among them the Syrian conflict, had been obvious from the start (1). On February 22, the United States and the Russian Federation, Co-Chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), issued the “Joint Statement on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”. Since then, it has also been obvious that reaching a common understanding on “who is a terrorist and who is not” would be a key issue (2). Because, under the terms of the “Cessation”, Russia and the US were expected to delineate, with other members of the ISSG’s Ceasefire Task Force, the territory held by “Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra” and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council” which were excluded from the cessation of hostilities. This was to prove a difficult task in view of the complicated ground situation and the diverse interests involved. Okumaya devam et →
“Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”, worked out between Russia and the US and approved by the UNSC through Resolution 2268, entered into force on February 27, 2016. For two months, despite violations, it seemed to hold inspiring cautious optimism. However, two major challenges remained.
The first was the launching of not just talks but “meaningful talks” between the regime and the opposition. On March 21, Reuters reported that U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura described Syria’s political transition as “the mother of all issues” in response to regime’s representative Bashar Ja’afari who said that Assad’s future had “nothing to do” with the negotiations.
The second was how to deal with terrorist organizations not only as a short-term battlefield issue but also a long-term problem for Syria and beyond. Under the terms of the “Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”, Russia and the US were expected to delineate, with other members of the ISSG’s Ceasefire Task Force, the territory held by “Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra” and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council” which were excluded from the cessation of hostilities. It was obvious that in view of conflicting interests this would be easier said than done. Okumaya devam et →
On February 22, the United States and the Russian Federation, Co-Chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), issued the “Joint Statement on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”. As a first reaction, even the most optimistic observers remained cautious. Pessimists were easier to find. Indeed, on the one hand this is a positive development, at least an effort to bring some but not yet enough specificity to the hitherto broadly expressed concept of a ceasefire. And, most importantly, this is the first time since the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons that Russia and the US have a detailed agreement regarding the Syrian conflict. On the other hand, the complexity of the situation on the ground with nearly a hundred fighting groups, shifting alliances, lack of monitors are huge challenges. Some analysts believe that some groups would use this lull as an opportunity to regroup, rearm and get reorganized. One could say, therefore, that the Joint statement marks the beginning of what may prove to be a frustrating “ceasefire process” with many violations, ups and downs and with more than one devil in the details. Okumaya devam et →