Translated by Captain Ahab
The meetings between President Putin and President Obama during the G20 did not give birth to the solution in Syria that would have formed the basis for a political process. The Russo/American optimism was high on reaching a deal during the summit, to the point that Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria was asked to lay the foundations for a new round of Geneva talks, that will draw from the awaited deal, so as to not waste time, and to keep the momentum high, in order that a solution can be reached as soon as possible.
The failure to come to an agreement is due to the US’ attempt at capitalizing on the limited options present to the Russians in Syria, trying to blackmail the Russians and get them to compromise, on things they simply cannot. The Americans took a tough stand at the last moment in the negotiations, knowing full well the Russians are on borrowed time, relying that the Russians would prefer to deal with Obama rather than Hillary Clinton, who would be more aggressive which may push the Russians to increase their military involvement in Syria. The Russians cannot in a short space of time end the war in Syria militarily, but also they will not accept defeat, and they cannot afford to get bogged down in Syria, which is what the US strategy is all about, to bleed the Russians in Syria. The Russians will be celebrating one year of military intervention in Syria soon, and they are faced with tough choices, yet they seem resilient and patient, that they even bit their lip having come so close to agree a deal, yet they announced that Lavrov will continue deliberations with Kerry on the 20th of this month during the UN Annual general debate in New York.
So it appears the Americans asked for more concessions. The plan which was presented to the different rebel groups by Ambassador Michael Ratney in his communique, represents far less than what the State Department had asked the Russians for. This unbalance between what the rebel factions asked for from the SAA, is a clear and conscious attempt at blackmailing the Russians, who they believe are restricted in their options with regards to Syria. The plan laid out the demarcation lines and points that the SAA needs to retreat from in the North of Syria, and the distance the SAA needs to keep between it and the Castello Road, that tightens the noose around the armed militias. 500 meters South, 3500 from the North, it even spoke of the kind of weaponry that the SAA can retain in the few outposts, which are few and far between, that were assigned to them, this will render the Castello Road a boulevard for the armed militias, under the guise of humanitarian aid, and their convoys that they use to replenish their weapons, where as the plan does not specify the simultaneous retreat of the armed militias, and simply delays it to another time.
The plan proposed by the Americans did not tackle the problem of Al-Nusra positions, nor the way in which Al-Nusra can be differentiated from the “Moderate rebels”, which is a Russian demand, nor has any mechanism been presented, noting that the purpose of the agreement is to fight terrorism and ISIS. Moreover, the plan does not say anything about how to deal with the groups that are allied to Al-Nusra and completely ignores the efforts of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to protect Al-Nusra and to form a large Jihadi army, adding to Al-Nusra other Jihadi factions, which further complicates the coordination of air raids with Russia. More to the point the Americans never showed any intent to hit Al-Nusra.
The Americans who in their air raids do not distinguish between a tree, man, animal, civilian, or soldier, are constantly complaining that it will be difficult to distinguish between a “Moderate rebel” and a terrorist.
The plan completely ignores the fact that the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces who are being asked to fight terrorism, still considers Al-Nusra to be it’s military wing, they were present during the announcement made by Al-Joulani to split Al-Nusra from Al-Qaeda, while Washington itself still considers the new front to be terrorist, even though they’ve changed names from Al-Nusra to Jabhat Fath Al-Sham. The other sticking point, the political process is unclear to a large extent, that even Michael Ratney concludes his communique by concluding that at the present moment it is difficult to start any political process, which means the US wants to gain time, for several reasons: chief among them is to continue the cease-fire arrangement without any definable time-table that would be part of a larger political settlement, and without any political gains or exchange, this burden will of course be lifted by the SAA in Aleppo to be exact, which is the key to the war in Syria. There is another aim behind this delay is to reshuffle the Syrian opposition, which is no longer an exclusively Turkish card, rather it has transformed with the Kurdish protection unit, and with Turkey’s involvement in Syria into an American card, that should be preserved by cooling the fronts, and handing them over to the next administration, and in the mean time Russia, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah are being bled.
The US’s plan draws from the list of ideas published by the Washington Post last July, that seeks to enforce a no fly zone.
Putin and Obama
Putin said during his press conference in Hangzhou, that he had good reason to believe that the US and Russia may reach an agreement on Syria in the following days. And he continued: “If that happens then we can say that our joint operations with the US in fighting terrorism , including in Syria, will improve and evolve”, Putin assured that Russia is in constant communication with the Syrian Government and Tehran, informing them of the contents of the agreements.
Putin also noted that he and Obama had reached an understanding on “what we can do to calm the situation down, and reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides” regarding Syria.
Obama announced that his talks with Putin had been, honest, practical and fruitful, while at the same time confirming that there is still a gap between the two countries positions on Syria.
He added that the “talks were difficult but positive, we held talks to come to an agreement to stop the war in Syria, which will enable both of us, the US and Russia, to concentrate on tackling our common enemies like, Al-Nusra and ISIS,” adding that “we did not overcome our disagreements on what we think will be genuinely beneficial”.
He added by saying that the US and Russia are working on the final points in the cease-fire regime in Syria, which will enable the increase in delivery of humanitarian aid.
White house spoke person said that Obama and Putin “held talks about lowering the level of violence in the country”, adding that “we would like to reach an agreement as soon as possible due to the worsening humanitarian condition, but we have to make sure that it is a working formula, if we can’t reach such an agreement then we will withdraw from such talks”.
The White House explained that what remains as points of contention between Moscow and Washington are “technical, and relate to how the agreement will be enforced”, pointing that Kerry and Lavrov will meet this week to look for ways to overcome their countries differences.
President Erdogan announced that he had offered both Putin and Obama to establish a “no fly zone” in the North of Syria, adding that he is working with the US and Russia to implement a cease-fire before Eid Al-Adha.
Erdogan considers that “to defend the idea of Assad remaining in power after killing 600 thousand Syrians is something to be ashamed of”.
Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.