What could be an effect of the new ceasefire in the southwestern Syria?

The new ceasefire was announced in the southwestern Syria after months of undisclosed talks between the US and Russia and after the meeting of US President Donald Trump with his Russia counterpart Vladimir Putin (Secretary Rex Tillerson even said that the aims of both countries  in Syria are exactly the same – but they differed on how they should be achieved). Do you think this initiative has any potential to be important for finding solution for Syrian conflict or perhaps not so much, and why? Read few comments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. Credit: http://en.kremlin.ru

Samuel Heller, Fellow, The Century Foundation

I don’t think this newly announced de-escalation deal has any real potential as the basis for a big-picture solution to the Syrian conflict, just because I don’t think that sort of solution is forthcoming. That said, if it’s successful, I think there will be interest in testing new modes of U.S.-Russian coordination elsewhere in Syria, beyond this one geographic corner.

And I think the deal could be a solution for this specific part of the country, which is something. There are factors specific to Syria’s southwest that give reason for some cautious optimism, including real investment and will on the part of the Americans, Russians, Jordanians, and Israelis. But you also have a lot of the same risk factors that have undermined past ceasefires and cessations of hostilities, including the technical challenge of effectively policing the line of de-escalation and questions about the guarantors’ real ability to deter spoilers like Jabhat al-Nusrah and Iran’s proxies.

James M. DorseySenior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University

Getting from a ceasefire to a peace agreement under a unified government that controls all of Syria’s territory is easier said than done. There are a lot more players that are likely to have demands of their own. Ultimately, peace talks have so far gone nowhere.

Moreover, the US and Russia may nominally agree on a common goal but are likely to disagree when they try to put flesh on a skeleton of words. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Jeffrey VanDenBergChair, Political Science & Geography Department, Professor of Political Science, Director of Middle East Studies, Drury University

By itself, the narrow agreement on southern Syria won’t do much toward a resolution of the war. However, if the terms can hold (which depends largely on Russia’s ability to get the Asad regime and the Iranians to abide by it), then it would mark an important step towards a political resolution. It is clear that a political solution depends on compromise and coordination between the United States and Russia. There are still large gaps between the US and Russia on Syria, most notably the continuation of the Asad regime. But the announcement at the G20 Summit highlighted the overlap of the two big powers’ interests in focusing on fighting Daesh as the top priority.  It is reasonable to remain skeptical because previous agreements have been violated by Asad and the Russians.  Nonetheless, this agreement is better that the status quo ante, and holds some possibility for future progress towards a political solution.

Thomas PierretSenior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Locale ceasefires such as the one proclaimed this weekend should not be seen as part of an effort to provide a comprehensive solution to the Syrian conflict. Such ceasefires serve very specific aims which are: on the part of loyalist forces, freezing a front where they have been suffering significant losses recently; the freeze will allow for the redeployment of loyalist troops on other fronts, notably against the rebel-held Eastern Ghuta of Damascus, and in the desert against the Islamic State; for the US, the ceasefire is a way to keep the Iranian Pasdaran and their proxies away from the borders of Israel and Jordan. So, to repeat myself, such local ceasefires don’t have the potential to lead to a comprehensive solution to the conflict, because that’s simply not their purpose.


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