After five years of bloodletting, there is a glimmer of hope that the Syrians' long nightmare may end soon. A truce agreement was announced by Russia and the US today under which a ceasefire will go into effect in Syria on February 27. Humanitarian aid will be delivered to besieged towns and villages. The truce does not extend to such terrorist outfits as Daesh, Jabhat al Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham.
Monday February 22, 2016, 22:03 EST
In fast-paced developments, Russia and the US announced today that they had agreed to the terms of a truce ending hostilities in Syria. The ceasefire will go into effect on Saturday February 27 (midnight Damascus time). Underwritten by both the US and Russia, the Syrian government of President Bashar al Asad has accepted it as has the Saudi-backed and financed opposition High Negotiation Committee.
The Russians made clear that the truce would not include the terrorist outfits Daesh (aka ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra against whom Russian air force planes will continue to conduct operations. President Asad also excluded Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham from the truce agreement calling them foreign-backed terrorist groups.
Under the terms of the ceasefire agreement, an International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Ceasefire Task Force will be established under UN auspices. Its task will be to determine the territories under the control of various factions and to monitor any ceasefire violations.
Russia and the US are also to set up a communications hotline and possibly a working group to exchange information after the cessation of hostilities comes into effect.
If it takes hold—and there are good prospects for its success because of Syrian army advances against the terrorists—this will be the first piece of good news in Syria in a long time. Humanitarian aid is to be delivered to the long-suffering Syrian people. It couldn’t come sooner.
The truce agreement also signals the failure of the foreign-instigated war on Syria. It appears that the Saudi vandals have also been brought to their senses although their pea-brained defence minister, Mohammad bin Salman who is the de facto ruler of the kingdom because of his father’s dementia, may not be able to understand the complexities of war. He lives in an air-conditioned palace issuing hair-brained orders for his equally incompetent military officers.
The situation, however, is now out of his control. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Barack Obama are endorsing the plan. Even the Americans have realized that unless they accept this plan, their favorite terrorists will lose everything as the Syrian army backed by revolutionary forces from Iran and Hizbullah and with Russian air support make steady progress on all fronts.
Exuding confidence, Syrian President Bashar al Asad announced soon after the truce terms were revealed that elections to the People’s Council (parliament) would be held on April 13. All parties to the truce agreement will be permitted to participate.
While there is no guarantee that this truce agreement would necessarily hold because previous ceasefires collapsed despite optimistic noises, what is different this time is that the Syrian army has the upper hand. In this scenario, the warmongers have more to gain by ending the conflict than by continuing it.
The real test will come when the ceasefire goes into effect and how much would the foreign sponsors of terror be willing to abide by its terms. For now, there is room for guarded optimism. It comes none too soon for the long-suffering Syrian people.