Friday, September 9, 2016

US and Russia agree on Syria deal, aiming for truce on Monday.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov. Reuters. 

The United States and Russia have come to a new agreement in Syria in an attempt to finally end the war there. Reuters. The agreement will begin coordination against terror groups such as ISIS and the former al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra, now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Indeed, fighting al-Nusra was a major point of disagreement between both sides. Russia has agreed that the Syrian government will end airstrikes in the region where al-Nusra operates, which should put an end to barrel bomb attacks. If the truce holds, Russia and the United States will coordinate airstrikes against both terror groups. As part of the agreement, both Syria and the rebels would have to withdraw from strategic routes into Aleppo to open up a corridor for humanitarian aid. 

My Comment:
I have very little confidence that this agreement will live to be fulfilled. Why? Well after four years of war, I don't have much hope in anything ending this war. Too much blood has been spent and too many people have died. Both the rebels and regime are both locked in the cycle of revenge. And they are the ones that are going to have to abide by the deal made up by the Russians and Americans. All have to say about that is good luck. 

And I doubt that Russia and the United States can really work together. I think the Russians want to play ball but the Obama administration hates Russia. To an irrational degree. I get the feeling that if the Russians did have a great plan to end the violence in Syria, Obama would veto it just out of spite. He just hates the Russians that much. Even though the Russians are being reasonable here, I expect Obama to find a way to, either intentionally or unintentionally, break this agreement. 

I do like that the United States has finally come around to the fact that al-Nusra is just as big of a threat as ISIS. They are violent Jihadists and I don't buy for a second that their "re-branding" as a non al-Qaeda organization. Perhaps they are even worse because unlike ISIS, al-Nusra has been very good at collecting allies. Which was a major reason why we didn't strike them in the past. When we did launch a few limited airstrikes against al-Nusra our "allies" in the rebel groups were furious with us. 

Why? Because despite the fact that al-Nusra is a pack of murderous Jihadists, they were one of the only rebel groups that were having success against the Syrian regime. Al-Nusra was doing something a lot of the other rebel groups weren't, which was fighting effectively. Indeed, it's possible that if we were hitting al-Nusra as hard as we hit ISIS, the rebellion would be over by now. 

The truce will be the most difficult thing to enforce. Last time it fell apart due to both sides trying to start the fighting up. Some of this was because of the before mentioned bad blood between both sides. But some of it was just people with itchy trigger fingers. That is probably going to happen, and I would be very surprised if it didn't and the war doesn't start up again. Stranger things have happened, but I am not holding my breath that this truce will hold. 

I almost wish that this truce deal didn't happen. Why? Well I think the battle of Aleppo was almost over. The rebels were going to lose and once they did the war would be essentially over. Aleppo was their most critical outpost and they were almost completely surrounded. Eventually they would have been starved out. 

That would have been a humanitarian disaster, but I think in the end it would have probably been the best solution. I don't think there is going to be a diplomatic solution to the war, it will just keep going on and on until one side is utterly defeated. As long as both the rebels and the regime both exist, the war will continue. Letting one side or the other get annihilated would probably save more lives in the end. Since the regime is in a much stronger position and have the Russians backing them, it's for the best if they win. 

As for ISIS and al-Nusra, this agreement could be very bad news for them. ISIS is in dire straits as it is. They have been cut off from the outside world and even their de-facto capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq are under risk of being liberated. They no longer have their towns and villages on the Turkish borders so they can no longer get recruits into their territory. Any coordination with American and Russian airstrikes is just more bad news for them. 

Al-Nusra is in a better position but they have largely escaped airstrikes from the United States. Russia has hit them hard but if both sides work together they will both be more effective in their strikes against al-Nusra. More importantly though, it's very hard to separate al-Nusra from their rebel allies. With the restrictions on taking territory, nobody will really be able to fight them effectively. And airstrikes alone won't defeat them...   

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