Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Russia/Turkey brokered cease fire takes effect in Syria.

Syrian children play in the rubble near Aleppo. Reuters. 

A new ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey has taken effect in Syria. Reuters. Though some skirmishes happened after the 2200 GMT deadline, most of the fighting between the Syrian government and rebel groups has ended. The Free Syrian Army and many other rebel groups agreed to the cease fire, though jihadist groups are not covered by the agreement. The FSA are more confident about this cease fire then previous ones that have fallen apart. Those cease fires were brokered between the United States and Russia. The US was left out this time around and has been invited to the table as soon as President Barack Obama is gone. If the cease fire holds, peace talks will begin in an effort to end the war that has killed more then 300,000 people.

My Comment:
Good on the Russians, Turks and Syrians to finally come up with a cease fire. Though the past cease fires have failed and failed hard, with the fall of Aleppo, I have some more optimism that this one will have a better result. 

Why? For one thing the rebels don't have much of a choice. They have lost their largest stronghold and are on the way to total defeat. This is their only chance for them to have any kind of chance at a life after the war. If they keep fighting they will lose and will most likely be annihilated. 

The rebels must understand how bad their position is. Two of their major allies have all but abandoned them. Turkey is now working with Russia and Syria to end the fighting. In the past Turkey was one of the main engines of the war giving rebels a lot of support and help. That doesn't seem to be happening anymore. 

The rebels will also lose their US sponsorship on January 20th. Barack Obama has been trying to overthrow Assad for quite some time now. He has trained rebels and given them weapons which has helped them survive for longer then they would have otherwise. That all ends when Donald Trump is inaugurated. Trump has said multiple times that we should work with the Russians in Syria and that we shouldn't give weapons to rebels since we can't properly vet them.

With their allies abandoning them and their heavy losses on the battlefield, they have little choice but to try and get a deal. If they keep fighting they will lose and be eliminated. If they make a deal they get to survive. And this is the best time to do so.

I do think it is kind of funny that America was excluded from this peace deal. Barack Obama has pissed away most of our goodwill and credibility in the region. Our former peace deals failed and failed miserably and our allies are getting sick of it. 

Turkey is probably the biggest reason why this peace deal happened. And why did they suddenly go from wanting to overthrow Assad to wanting to work with him? My guess was it was America's supposed role in the coup there. Fair or not, I think the Turkish government thinks that Fethullah Gulen was responsible for it. Gulen currently lives in the United States and we won't send him back to Turkey. Whether Turkey is correct about any of that doesn't really matter, but it does explain why Turkey is now in the Russian sphere of influence instead of ours. 

The fact that Turkey is working closely with Russia despite the fact that they were almost in a shooting war last year and that the Russian ambassador was murdered in Turkey shows how poorly Barack Obama has done in the region. 

I have mixed feelings about this situation. On the one hand, I do hope the war against the rebels can end so everyone can focus on killing Jihadists instead. Plus a cease fire will probably save a lot of lives if it succeeds. On the other, I am no fan of Turkey and I don't like that they are gaining influence. They have gone too far in the direction of radical Islam. 

I wonder how a peace deal would work? What I have heard is that Syria might be divided into different spheres of influence. Turkey would take the border area to the north and crush the Kurds. Russia would take the coast and Syria would govern the rest. I don't know if that would work but we will probably have to wait and see...

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