Monday, March 21, 2016

Russia is growing frustrated by a lack of US coordination on Syrian cease fire, may act unilaterally.

The current military situation in Syria. Via Wikipedia.

Russia is growing frustrated by a lack of coordination with the United States over cease fire violations in the Syrian Civil War, and may unilaterally launch airstrikes. AP/CBS.  The airstrikes may begin as soon as next Tuesday if an agreement isn't reached. Russia has accused the United States of dithering when it comes to enforcement of cease fire violations, which Russia claims has killed 67 people in the Aleppo area. Though the cease fire has been largely successful, violations are relatively common, and both the Syrian regime and rebel groups have been accused of violating the truce. 

My Comment:
Trouble ahead for the truce? I'm not sure. From what I understand the US government disagrees with the Russian's assessments and think everything is fine. I don't see how that is possible. It seems to me that both sides in this conflict are regularly violating the truce. And the Russians are right, we aren't coordinating with them. 

And I still don't know why we can't just work with the Russians. I know we officially still support the rebels and want Assad to fall, (well I don't but the government does), but doesn't the cease fire mean that both sides in the conflict are working to end it? I mean peace talks are starting up and there could be a solution found. It seems like it would be rather easy to find away to agree with the Russians on the rules of engagement. Why not enforce the terms of the cease fire? 

As it stands right now, nobody is getting punished for violating the cease fire. I think that this has the potential to derail the entire peace process. After all, if rebel groups, or the Syrian government, can get away with attacking their enemies, there is little incentive to not do so. A horrific amount of blood has been spilled in Syria and a lot of people still want to settle scores before the fighting ends. Allowing that to happen could end the cease fire and start the fighting up again. 

That shouldn't happen as this cease fire is the best chance for peace. Simply allowing the rebels to break the cease fire isn't going to help things. Then you get into a tit-for-tat cycle of revenge that can spiral out of control. Sending in airstrikes might not be the best solution but it would at least make the rebels think twice about breaking the cease fire. I haven't heard of a better way to enforce the cease fire either. 

Of course we aren't sure which group of rebels are responsible for the breaks in the cease fire. It could be one of the non-ISIS, non-al-Qaeda Jihadist groups that is responsible. If that is the case, then we have no reason not to bomb them when they act up, since, as Jihadists, they deserve airstrikes anyways. It could also be the more mainstream Free Syrian Army units as well. They occasionally exhibit bad behavior as well. And we can't rule out regime forces violating the truce either. 

On the other it is very hard to tell a Jihadist rebel apart from the more mainline FSA units. Indeed, it's very hard to tell any of the rebel groups apart, even when you factor in groups like ISIS and al-Nusra which were not covered in the truce. My guess is that this is probably one of the major reasons why the United States is dragging their feet on this issue. They don't want to have the "wrong" rebels get bombed. I'm not super sympathetic to this argument because even the few "secular" rebels left in Syria are at the very least working with Jihadist and Islamist groups, even if they aren't themselves all that radical. 

Finally, I am amazed that this cease fire has lasted as long as it has. It stated on the 27th of last month and back then I thought it would last a week at best. Right now were are quickly approaching a full month of cease fire, which I think is very impressive. I will give credit to both the rebels and the regime for at least trying to make the cease fire work, even if there are a bunch of violations. 

What are the chances that the cease fire becomes permanent? I don't know. It just seems like there are too many factions with a stake in Syria for it to ever be truly peaceful. The Jihadist groups have their own agenda and won't stop fighting even if there is a major breakthrough. And there are a lot of countries, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, that have a large interest in continuing the war. But if there is any hope at all, this cease fire is probably it... 

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