Pushkov: “it is necessary to see the pitfalls” that threaten the agreements on truce in Syria


MOSCOW, February 23. The Chairman of the Duma Committee on international Affairs Alexei Pushkov believes that the agreements Russia and the USA on a ceasefire in Syria during their performance open the way to political solution of the Syrian crisis. The major threats to the truce, he sees the close integration of some groups of the Syrian moderate opposition with terrorist organizations, as well as possible attempts of regional players, particularly Turkey, to use the ceasefire to strengthen controlled groups. Another risk factor is the lack of unity in the ranks of the Syrian opposition, said the MP.

The path to a political solution

Pushkov stressed that the principal agreement has been reached, which in case of compliance of parties “opens the way to political solution of the Syrian crisis”. “Russia confirmed its commitment to a political settlement and acted as a force that – together with the US in fact is one of the guarantors of this process,” he said.

Thus, he continued, knocked the ground from under the feet of the accusations against Russia that it ostensibly intends to solve the Syrian crisis exclusively by military means. “We said earlier that this is not so, and now it’s quite obvious,” – said the politician.

“The ceasefire is a very important step, because the continuation of hostilities it is extremely difficult to talk about the political process, moreover, in the face of continuing hostilities, the negotiations are their hostages,” said Pushkov. He confirmed that “if this truce will be the necessary political conditions for the start of a sustainable political process.” “Of course, is to see the pitfalls that exist and persist,” warned the head of the Duma Committee.

To separate “sheep” from “goats”

Pushkov believes that there is “a very difficult job for the branch operating in Syria of terrorist groups from the forces of the so-called moderate opposition”. First of all the complexity related areas that controls “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra” (banned in the Russian Federation terrorist group), because those territories her power is very closely intertwined with the positions of a number of parts of the moderate opposition, he explained.

“Moreover, many of the moderate opposition groups “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra” has become a kind of “roof” because it is one of the most powerful military organizations on the territory of Syria,” the MP stated. He recalled that the difficulties with the allocation of those areas with moderate opposition, and where are the terrorists, still largely were related to the fact that “no clear boundaries between “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra” and a number of groups who call themselves moderate opposition, but actually act as allies of “Dzhabhat EN-Nusra.”

Regional players

The second pitfall Pushkov believes Turkey’s intentions. “It’s pretty clear that Turkey may try to use the ceasefire to strengthen its militants, to strengthen the position of those groups that it supports to restore supply routes that have been violated by the actions of the Syrian army, Russian aviation,” he said. This, of course, would be a grave violation of the truce essence, because it “should not be used to strengthen ties between regional players, as is, for example, Turkey and the militants,” warned the MP.

The head of the Committee stressed that the truce should be used “to establish a political process, not to reinforce military positions of those groups, supported by Turkey, say, or Saudi Arabia”.

The fragmentation of opposition

The third pitfall is still “obvious and known to all the lack of unity in the ranks of the Syrian opposition, which is complicating the negotiations,” Pushkov noted. “We know that in recent negotiations, one group of the opposition put forward a categorical requirement to care for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad, another opposition group was ready to negotiate without preliminary conditions,” he recalled. “In the end, this confusion has led to the fact that the negotiations were broken”, – said the politician.

According to the Chairman of the Duma Committee, the opposition in Syria “to prove that she is ready for the political process that it is the force that can negotiate”. “Still there was a feeling that the opposition is able to agree as a party to the negotiations has not yet formed,” said he.

“If the truce will be respected by the parties, if these three factors do not turn into a serious threat and will be eliminated, then we can really see a qualitative change of the situation in Syria and the transition to the political part of the Syrian settlement,” says Pushkov. “Let’s hope that a political settlement by all parties involved in the conflict, will be given a chance, because he still looked very poorly, and now for him there are certain grounds,” he concluded.

The cease-fire

In the evening of 22 February had been circulated a joint statement of the Russian Federation and the United States, which says that the ceasefire in Syria will come into force on 27 February at 00:00 (Damascus time) (01:00 GMT). The statement stressed that the truce apply to all parties, except terrorist groups “Days” (Arabic name “Islamic state”) and “EN-dzhebhat Nusra” (both banned in Russia), as well as other terrorist organizations recognized by the UN Security Council.

Second round of Syrian peace talks was supposed to start in Geneva under the auspices of the UN on 25 February, however, at the end of last week the emissary of the UN Secretary General on Syria Staffan de Mistura acknowledged that to initiate them in this day will be unreal.