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(Finian Cunningham) ~ An end to the Syrian conflict is desperately needed. But the latest plan for a cessation of violence is unlikely to take hold, as the deal struck by international powers is based on fundamentally opposing premises.
In short, Washington and its allies want regime change, while Russia and Iran insist that President Bashar Assad and his government are the legitimate ruling authorities in Syria. All sides are mandated by UN resolutions to respect the sovereign will of the Syrian people – to determine the political future of their country.
But the Western powers and their regional partners, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar in particular, are insisting – explicitly or implicitly – on their objective of ousting Assad. This premise of unlawful interference in the affairs of a sovereign state is the crux of the problem, and why the latest seeming agreement for a nationwide truce is as thin as the paper it is written on.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced the proposal for a cessation of hostilities following six hours of negotiations with 15 other member states belonging to the International Syria Support Group in Munich last Friday. The truce is supposed to come into effect later this week.
The truce outlined in an ISSG communique does not apply to two militant groups: Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL/ISIL or Daesh) and the Jabhat al Nusra Front. Both are linked to Al Qaeda and are officially listed by international governments as terrorist organizations. The provision also exempts “other terror groups” but does not specify the names. This is a major loophole in the proposed truce deal which will make its application extremely problematic if not infeasible.
That loophole also alludes to the foreign-backed nature of the conflict in Syria.