Etiket arşivi: ISSG

A Critical Week for the Middle East

October 17, 2016

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

Syria: Scant Hope for a Breakthrough

September 26, 2016

On February 22, 2016, the US and the Russian Federation, Co-Chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), issued the “Joint Statement on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”. Six months later, in the absence of any progress, they decided to revive it. At a joint press conference in Geneva both Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov underlined that the agreement they were announcing would only hold if the regime, the opposition and others met their obligations. Mr. Kerry said that the Russians have an ability to encourage Assad, and the US has an ability together with other countries to encourage the opposition. Yet, twelve days later he told the UN Security Council (UNSC) that the agreement was “shredded by independent actors, by spoilers who don’t want a ceasefire”. The immediate reasons for the failure were a mistaken attack by coalition aircraft on Syrian government forces killing more than sixty soldiers and the controversy regarding the attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy. In reality these are only the symptoms of multiple conflicts of interest facing Russia and the US in forging a united front in Syria. Okumaya devam et

Syria: Reviving the “Cessation”

September 12, 2016

Ever since the rise of ISIL and Syria’s proxy wars compelled Moscow and Washington to engage in greater cooperation they have had three hurdles to tackle:
• Breaking the deadlock over Assad’s future.
• Persuading the regional backers of Damascus and the opposition to give their support, not only in words but also in deeds, to a Syrian-owned political transition.
• Securing a broad-based agreement on who is a “terrorist” and who is a “moderate”.
During the past year, Syrian President’s future, at least during the initial phases of such transition, seems to have become less of an issue. Even his archenemy Turkey’s position has shifted. The other two still top the agenda, but in reverse order. Okumaya devam et

Russia’s Intervention in Syria (3)

April 5, 2015

Russia’s military intervention in Syria was launched on September 30, 2015. 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”. On February 27, despite reports of violations, guns fell silent giving rise to cautious optimism. On March 14 President Putin announced that having fulfilled their objectives “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw. In a telephone conversation with President Obama he said that “this will certainly serve as a good signal to all conflicting sides and create conditions for the start of a true peace process.” In a nutshell, the past six months have been the most intense period of the five-year conflict opening a window of opportunity for re-energizing the political transition talks between the regime and the opposition. Okumaya devam et

Syria: “Cessation of Hostilities”

February 29, 2016

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

Middle East in the Grip of Polarization

February 18, 2016

The Middle East, in the grip of polarization, is going through a most violent period. Syria is being torn apart. Iraq is far from peace and stability. Egypt remains unsettled. Tunisia continues to face a multitude of challenges. According to some Libya is already a failed state. Yemen is being devastated. Dislocation, starvation and disease are widespread. Misery reigns everywhere. Behind their facade of stability and affluence Gulf States are nervous. ISIL’s appetite for crime and destruction seems insatiable. Its outreach is continuing to expand. As for Turkey, these are very stressful times to say the least. Okumaya devam et

A Roadmap to End the Syria Conflict

November 16, 2015

On September 28, hours after having delivered clashing remarks, Presidents Obama and Putin met on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Three days later, on September 30, Russia started airstrikes in Syria. A month later, on October 30, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States met in Vienna and issued a communiqué on the Syria conflict. The same day, the White House announced that President Obama had ordered fewer than fifty Special Operations troops into Syria to advise local forces fighting the Islamic State (ISIL). The next day, on October 31, Russian airliner Metrojet’s Airbus flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg crashed over Sinai with 224 people on board. And finally on November 13, ISIL struck Paris claiming more than a hundred victims and leaving hundreds wounded.

The foregoing is a six-week summary of major developments related to the Syria conflict. Okumaya devam et