Last night US and Russian diplomats completed a ceasefire deal regarding the Syrian territories. Below are the main points that everyone should know.
-Ceasefire begins on Monday at sunset
-There are to be no regime air strikes on the opposition
-There is to be a cessation of any military attempts to capture any lands from all sides
-The Costello road will be a demilatarized zone
-Relief aid will begin immediately
-After a 7 day period of calm, the US and Russia will coordinate attacks on Jabha Fatah Sham (Formerly Jabha Nusra) and ISIS targets
-Rebel groups are demanded to distance themselves from Jabha Fatah Sham
-The pact is for 7 days and they will then assess who is and who isn’t holding to the ceasefire agreement.
Now that those details have been made clear, let us examine 3 points.
- Great Deal for the US and Russia/Terrible Deal for the Suffering Syrians
The US and Russia are shamelessly trying to get the Syrian people to sell the blood of more than a half million people for relief aid. Indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas is a war crime, so why should the Syrian people see this as a ‘breakthrough’? An interesting omission to the “deal” is dissolving the siege around Aleppo. It mentions that humanitarian aid will flow in immediately, while it makes NO mention that the siege will end. Actually the siege will continue. That means essential items will not be allowed in such as fuel, and the flow of civilians and injured will not be allowed to pass out of the territory.
So this means effectively means the 350,000 trapped Syrians in Aleppo will stay trapped and, according to the agreement, the rebel groups are not allowed to try to free them. The agreement clearly states that there is to be a cessation of any military attempts to capture new territory. This means that the territory under the feet of the regime surrounding Aleppo is to remain as such.
Any ceasefire deal that demands one side not fire a shot, while the other side has the freedom to fire or not to fire, is not a ceasefire.
2. US-Russian attempts to take territory from Rebels
After a week of calm, the US and Russia will begin attacks on ISIS and Jabha Fatah Sham (JFS) targets. Firstly, let us separate ISIS from Jabha Fatah Sham. Territory that ISIS controls is exclusive to them and no other group shares any territory with them. However JFS has no territory exclusively under their control. Much of the territory in northern Syria has some form of JFS presence or cooperation on some level but they do not exclusively control any territory. State news media outlets such as RT.com (Russia Today) has been consistently trying to sell the idea that JFS controls eastern Aleppo. JFS only has a very small presence in Aleppo and much of territory is dominated by Free Syrian Army groups. So this means that the US and Russia will have a free hand to bomb virtually any of these territories for their own personal gain and then say that JFS members were there. Additionally JFS forms a major part of the resistance to Bashar Assad, it’s removal or degradation effectively hands those northern territories over to the regime. Like it or not that is the reality.
The deal also demands that the groups in Syria distance themselves from Jabha Fatah Sham so that they can “separate the terrorists from the moderate opposition”. Exactly who gave the US and Russia, two non-Syrian actors, the mandate to make that determination? Or is it that anyone who doesn’t work for American and Russian interests will be judged a terrorist? Interestingly enough a key Assad supporter, Hizbollah, is on the US terrorist list. Is it not odd that they have not been the recipient of one US airstrike to date in the Syrian territories?
3. A turning point for rebel groups
This is the absolute clearest attempt by the US and Russia to step over the bodies of the half million Syrians who have been killed and hijack the Syrian revolution for their own profit. Will those groups who have been the recipients of US backing be willing to spare themselves the embarrassment of having to try and sell this “deal” to their members or will they finally come to their senses that there is no good in US-Russian involvement in Syria?