Second attempt: what does the agreement Russia and the U.S. on the ceasefire in Syria


“Radical turn” crisis

According to the new agreement between Russia and the United States, February 27 in Syria should cease all hostilities (an exception will be made only banned in Russia terrorist organizations “Islamic state” and “dzhebhat EN-Nusra and other terrorist organizations identified by the UN security Council”). This was announced on February 22, from messages the U.S. state Department. Later the text of the agreement was posted on the Kremlin website.

On the same day ceasefire in Syria since February 27, in a special address was made by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The agreement on a ceasefire before it became the topic of his phone conversation with U.S. counterpart Barack Obama.

The ceasefire was supposed to begin at midnight on February 27 to Damascus time — units of the armed Syrian opposition forces and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad needs to cease hostilities against each other.

All parties involved in the Syrian conflict, will have until noon on February 26 to notify the Russian or the American side of “its commitment to the implementation and acceptance of the terms of cessation of hostilities”.

As explained in his address Putin, Russia and the US will jointly determine the areas that have agreed to a truce military forces. Putin has promised that targeting them will not wage a war neither Assad’s army nor the US-led international coalition nor Russia.

To monitor compliance with the ceasefire the US and Russia will establish a “hot line” of communication and, if necessary, the working group on exchange of information. According to Putin, the agreement is capable of “radically expand the crisis in Syria.”

As explained in an interview with TV channel Al Arabiya Hadath TV the leader of the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad National coalition for Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces (NCSROF), Khaled Khoja, the agreement will last for two weeks, but can be renewed if the parties will abide by it, reports Reuters.

The reaction of the parties

The implementation of the agreement depends on whether Moscow and Washington to persuade the parties to the conflict to comply with it. “Russia will carry out necessary work with Damascus — to the legitimate leadership of Syria. We hope that the United States will do the same with its allies and the factions that supported them”, — stressed in a special address on 27 February, Putin.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, presidential press Secretary Dmitry Peskov did not become clear, did Putin and Assad on the question of the truce in Syria. Peskov said only that “Russia in the framework of the operation of the Russian space forces continue in the airspace of Syria, is in constant contact with the legitimate government of this country.”

The Syrian government did not immediately react to the initiative of a ceasefire. A few hours later after it became known about the agreement between Moscow and Washington, Assad appointed on 13 April of the next parliamentary election (the previous election in Syria was held in 2012, under Syrian law, they are held every four years). Approved in December 2015 the UN security Council resolution on Syria has elections in the country within one and a half years — the elections should take place after the adoption of the new Constitution and under the control of the UN.

February 23, the Syrian state news Agency SANA reported that the Syrian authorities agree to a truce on the condition that the fight against “Islamic state” and other terrorist organizations will continue. Damascus intends to coordinate with Moscow defining the territories, which will act truce. The report emphasizes that Syria reserves the right to use force if the armed opposition breaks the truce.

Last Saturday, February 20, Assad said he was ready to go to a truce, but only if the armed opposition (the Syrian President uses the term “terrorists”), will not use the ceasefire to their advantage. Assad also demanded to cease to provide assistance to the rebels from abroad.

From the other side of the conflict, the Syrian opposition, unequivocal response was not. Immediately after it became known about the agreement on a cease-fire, Hodge from the NATIONAL coalition said that the inclusion of “dzhebhat EN-Nusra” in the number of parties against whom will continue fighting for the opposition is a “problem”. “The fact that “dzhebhat EN-Nusra” is valid not only in the province of Idlib and in Aleppo and Damascus. Thus, the civilian population and the fighters of the Free Syrian army (FSA) can come under attack under the pretext of action against “dzhebhat EN-Nusra,” explained Hodge in an interview with TV channel Al Arabiya.

This is also told Reuters one of the leaders of the belligerents in the SSA group “Jaysh al-Yarmouk” Bashar al-zu’bi.

At the same time, as reported by Riad Hijab, the head of “Supreme Council for the negotiations” (the body set up in December for negotiations between the opposition and Syrian authorities, and bringing together representatives of various Syrian opposition groups), representatives of the opposition agreed in principle to a temporary ceasefire under international mediation. The Council is meeting on 22 February at a meeting in Riyadh, which will last two or three days.

Failed attempt

The agreement between Moscow and Washington became the second in February. Previous was reached on 12 February, the foreign Ministers of Russia and the USA Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry at a security Conference in Munich. In terms of the ceasefire both agreements is identical: in both it is envisaged the continuation of fighting against the “Islamic state” and “dzhebhat EN-Nusra” and “other terrorist organizations”. It was expected that the 19th of February, an international group support Syria receives permission Assad and the opposition on a ceasefire. But this did not happen.

12 February-Assad, in an interview with AFP said he was ready to restore control over the entire territory of Syria. All week, government forces and their allies (the Iranian rebels and the Lebanese Hezbollah) with the support from the air the Russian air force increased the pressure on the second largest Syrian city Aleppo. Moscow explained that the town is controlled by “radical Islamists” (some districts in Aleppo in the hands of “dzhebhat EN-Nusra”).

Against this background, delayed the holding of the inter-Syrian talks in Geneva, which was scheduled for February 25. On 19 February, the UN special envoy on Syria Stefano de Mistura said the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that the resumption of talks on 25 February to “unrealistic”. “We need 10 days for preparations and invitations, but we hope to do it quickly,” said de Mistura.

As noted in a conversation with a researcher from the University of California at Berkeley Peter Bart, if Assad troops will be able, with the support of Russia to take Aleppo, the regional powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, may no longer support the armed opposition “on the grounds that she will not be able to win”.

The current agreement between the United States and Russia will be respected if the parties will find in Syria a “common point”, says the analyst of Turkish University Osmangazi cheap the chakmak. “The U.S. can refuse so persistently to demand the removal of Assad, and Russia to demonstrate greater zeal in the fight against [banned in Russia] ISIL,” he said.