30 December 2016 - 22:41
News ID: 426175
New Ceasefire Pact:
Rasa - A new ceasefire has come into effect across Syria after the government and the opposition agreed to a nationwide deal brokered by Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey.
Ceasefire Negotiation for Syria

RNA - The pact came into force at midnight on Thursday - the third time ceasefire agreement in 2016. It marks a key turning point after liberation of Aleppo and ushers in peace talks aimed at bringing an end to the foreign-backed war that has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half of Syria’s population.


According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the agreement has been reached with the Syrian government, certain opposition groups, Iran, and Turkey -  a longtime backer of the opposition. They hope the pact will hold in the run-up to talks in Kazakhstan that could lay out path to peace as well.


The fragile pact “would require a lot of attention,” but there are signs that indicate it might actually stick this time, including:


1- All sides say they are committed to the ceasefire agreement and have stopped fighting. The Syrian military has ceased combat operations except against terrorist groups including ISIL and Fatah Al-Sham Front (formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front) and other Al-Qaeda affiliated groups.


2- Notably absent from the peace process is the United States. The deal also excludes the terrorist groups of ISIL and Al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah Al-Sham Front. This will make it very difficult for them to act as a spoiler again.


3- The deal comes after a series of significant losses for the foreign-backed opposition/terrorists and a shift in the war’s momentum in favour of the Syrian people and government. The terrorists recently lost control of Aleppo, the last major city in which they had a presence. They have also come under bombardment in the province of Idlib and in rural areas near Damascus. Elsewhere they have made no gains for much of the past year. Last thing the defeated opposition would like to see is having no seats at the upcoming negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan.


4- The deal may not founder as unlike others have in the past year. The opposition groups are struggling for survival and have lost any sort of support and legitimacy among people. They have no choice but to honour the agreement, as they can no longer capitalise on their regime-change fiasco to finally march into Damascus – more or less in the footsteps of ISIL and Al-Qaeda.


5- The absence of the United States and its blood-drenched coalition of the bullied, bought, and willing offers a hint at the frustration over American policies and the reckless role it played in the failure of previous ceasefire agreements. Instead, Iran, Russia and Turkey have agreed to play a role as guarantors in the absence of American or UN involvement in the talks.


In the prevailing environment, the nationwide ceasefire can hold and meaningful progress can be made on negotiations. As we speak, the talks are set to include Russia, Turkey and Iran, whose top diplomats met earlier this month in an effort to kickstart peace talks, as well as representatives from the Syrian government and the opposition.


This is not a pop-up alliance between Russia and Turkey or a coup for Iran and Russia, and/or taking satisfaction in the successful sidelining of the United States from the process - as Western press outlets would like to suggest. This is about calming the violence, allowing humanitarian access to people, and bringing the six-year disaster to an end as quickly and humanely as possible.


It’s New Year’s Eve and the deal is real news for the long-suffering people of Syria. It raises hopes that the upcoming peace talks are actually going to have something to work with, and that 2017 is indeed going to be a happy New Year for all of them.


But the situation could improve for the Syrians through this ceasefire agreement only if Turkey is honest this time. Turkey has promised to separate its so-called moderates from the terrorist groups and its first serious test would be its decision about Ahrar Al-Sham.


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