Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) listens to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 29, 2016

To Peace, or Not to Peace?

In 1995, Hoolbroke described Yugoslavia as the ‘greatest collective security failure of the West since the 1930s.’ Jasmin Mujanovic, professor at York University questioned if Syria had displaced it?

After almost six years of fighting, the Syrian regime and rebel forces have agreed to a nationwide ceasefire headed by Russia and Turkey. The delicate agreement could signify a critical point in the conflict and could herald further peace proceedings resulting in an official end to the Syrian war.

However, the deal – which is the third truce agreement this year – allows us to question just how effective this pact is going to be? Rebel groups namely Ahrar al-Sham Islamist movement and Jaysh al-Islam signed the pact after lengthy negotiations in Turkey’s capital city, Ankara. Despite Syrian military claiming that they will cease all combat operations in all areas of Syria except ones containing ISIS and other terrorist organisations. Significant victories in favour of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, leaves many worried that the government may not honour the agreement in an attempt to capitalise on the shift, and to crush rebels once and for all.

On top of this, the negotiations depicted just how complex and diverse the interests involved in Syria actually are. With Moscow having upped its military and diplomatic involvement in Syria during the last few months, and the notable absence of the US and UN’s involvement in the most recent ceasefire, Turkey and Russia are now in position to act as guarantors. Diplomatic ties were recently mended between the guarantors after a Russian jet was shot down after it wandered into Turkish airspace.

Putin said there were three documents that were signed: a ceasefire agreement between the Syrian government and the armed opposition; a list of control mechanisms to ensure the ceasefire would work; and a statement of intent to begin negotiations on a political end to the conflict. He also described the ceasefire as fragile and said it would ‘require a lot of attention.’

Reports that came in early Friday morning – less than 12 hours after the agreement came into force – from both British and non-British based Observatories and rebel officials that government warplanes had carried out almost 20 raids. The attacks were said to be carried out overnight along the provincial boundary between Idlib and Hama. Warplanes and helicopters were said to be flying over the north-western part of Damascus in rebel held parts as well. Some rebel officials have also claimed government forces have tried to advance into the southern Aleppo province.

However, despite reports that came in earlier on in the day, other reports were stating that fighting had stopped and calm had prevailed in areas included in the deal. Hopefully, this will be the turning point the war-torn country needs to begin peace talks and bring about an official end to the six years old conflict.

Wishing all my readers a prosperous, happy and healthy new year! Happy reading.

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