FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Chasing peace in Syria
Posted:May 10, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
The so-called de-escalation agreement reached among Russia, Turkey and Iran last week in Astana is the latest in a series of attempts to bring the six-year-old Syrian civil war to an end. Previous ceasefire plans have either failed to take off or collapsed soon after, given the continued hostility between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and rebels. Still, the latest agreement is significant for a number of reasons. 
 
First of all, any attempt to cease violence is welcome given the destruction the war has wreaked in Syria. More than two million people are estimated to be living in rebel-held territories (barring areas controlled by the Islamic State) in terrible humanitarian conditions and under constant fear of aerial bombing. For them, an end to the Russian-Assad regime strikes is a great relief. Second, the agreement involves the three main external players in the civil war. Russia and Iran are the key backers of the regime, while Turkey supports some rebel groups. 
 
Under the agreement, Syria and Russia will stop bombing rebel-held areas, divided into four zones in Idlib, Homs, Damascus suburbs, and southern Deraa and Quneitra towns, to de-escalate tensions. The regime will also allow “unhindered” humanitarian supplies to rebel-held areas and provide public services. In return, the rebels should stop fighting government forces. Third, this appears to be a more focussed, phased attempt to end violence. The agreement was reached barely weeks before a two-track political process was to begin. In June, the government and rebel representatives will meet for negotiations in Geneva, while the Russia-led talks of external actors will continue in Kazakhstan in July. If the de-escalation plan holds, it will be a big boost for the political process.
 
But implementing the agreement itself will be a major challenge given the complex nature of the civil war. For the deal to hold, Russia and Iran will first have to rein in the Assad regime. In the past it has shown little interest in a political solution. Foreign Minister Walid Muallem’s comment that the regime would not allow UN monitoring of the implementation of de-escalation is not in the spirit of the agreement. 
 
A bigger challenge for all actors involved is how to tackle the threats from al-Qaeda-linked groups. The Astana agreement is clear on that — Russia and Syria will continue to attack them. In Idlib, the Qaeda-linked Tahrir al-Sham is the main anti-regime militia. In Homs and the Damascus suburbs, they have joined hands with other groups. So if the government continues to attack them, it could drag more rebel groups into the fight, risking an end to the ceasefire. Ideally, the regime should exercise restraint and the non-jihadist rebels distance themselves from Qaeda-linked organisations, while allowing Russia, Turkey and Iran to play the role of facilitators. To take the political process forward, everyone has to act more responsibly, keeping in mind the humanitarian situation.
 
The Hindu, May 10, 2017
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Relations between India and Peru  are united by El Niño and the monsoon yet separated by vast distances across oceans.  Jorge Castaneda, Ambassador of Peru to India, talks to INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS exclusively about what is bringing the two geographically-apart countries closer.
 
read-more
Indian judge Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the International Court of Justice on Monday as the UN General Assembly rallied behind him in a show of force that made Britain  bow to the majority and withdraw its candidate.
 
read-more
Those with a resolve make a big difference to the society. They inspire others to make the best out of a bad situation, steer out of morass with fortitude. Insha Mushtaq, the teenage girl who was pelleted to complete blindness during 2016 emerged as a classic example of courage.
 
read-more
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have "great potential" and they could work together at a "practical level".
 
read-more
This week a major United Nations gathering on climate change gets underway in Bonn, Germany.
 
read-more

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to build India's global appeal for investors seem to have finally yielded returns in terms of the country's performance in the World Bank&rsquo...

 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.