Kerry-Lavrov agreement, gone with the wind
Eva J. Koulouriotis 2016-09-19 13:53:00
Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011, the US position was adapting to the changing circumstances. The US administration remained silent about the killing of protesters during the first five months. The visit of Robert Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria at the time, to the city of Hama was its unique move. Ford was welcomed by the demonstrators who falsely believed that the United States−the "cradle of democracy"−will stand with them against the oppression of the dictator. After more than five years of the ongoing Syrian revolution, the American troops were expelled from al-Ra’i town in rural north of Aleppo, a clear evidence of the disappointment among the Syrian people from the US administration.
On the 10th of this month, after five hours of discussions between foreign ministers Kerry and Lavrov, followed by another five hours of consultations between Kerry and the White House, a US-Russian agreement on the Syrian crisis was finally announced.
The Kerry-Lavrov agreement is based on the following points:
(a) Declaration of a cessation of hostilities between all parties.
It has been breached during the previous days more than 200 times by Assad regime and allied militias.
(b) Flight ban of regime aircraft in Syrian airspace.
Actually, this is the phrase John Kerry used in the beginning of his statement. But then, he added that Assad is allowed to target Fatth al-Sham Front (i.e., Nusra before) and ISIS, although he himself confirmed that Assad is using Fatth al-Sham Front as a pretext to kill civilians and target Syrian armed resistance. This proves clearly the dichotomy of American foreign minister and the level of weakness of the agreement.
(c) Permission of access of humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo through Castello road crossing the north of the city.
After more than nine days into this agreement, humanitarian aid has not reached the city, despite Moscow’s confirmation on the Syrian regime’s approval of the entire agreement, but the regime itself declared its opposition to the entry of aid under false pretenses.
(d) Formation of a joint center of the Americans and the Russians to start coordinate attacks against Fatth al-Sham Front, which both parties consider as a terrorist group.
However, the recent developments in the Syrian arena of non-fulfillment of the Assad regime obligations, as well as the rejection by the Pentagon of the above agreement from the outset, substantially cancels it.
Fatth al-Sham Front’s position
In his televised interview with Al-Jazeera, his first of this kind, the leader of Fatth al-Sham Front, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, appeared calm and with consistent views about the situation within Syria. He announced his rejection of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement and made very clear that for him the Syrian revolution cause is based on the principles of dignity and freedom, in contrast with what the Western media are trying to show in that Fateh al-Sham are terrorists and do not believe in freedom.
For those who do not have enough information, 90% of Fateh al-Sham fighters are Syrians. They are defending effectively, side by side with the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian people against the criminal Assad regime. They are led by Islamic ideology in their fight, but that is not necessarily wrong. George W. Bush before the start of the war in Iraq went to the church to seek the support of God. Vladimir Putin asked the Russian Orthodox Church to support him before his declaration of war on the Syrian people on September 30, last year. Why those are characterized heroes but Fatth al-Sham Front people are described as terrorists?
Although Fatth al-Sham Front announced its disengagement from Al-Qaeda more than two months ago, and it stressed the lack of intention to target the West, including the United States, this has not changed America’s point of view towards it. The real reason behind this is not that Fatth al-Sham Front is extreme Islamic−which is wrong−but because it is a significant force on the ground, the military "spearhead" of the Syrian revolution that Washington does not want to succeed.
The Iranian attitude on the Russian-American agreement has mysteriously not been communicated in the media. The latest events on Syrian territory were Iranian actions showing a clear lack of acceptance of this agreement. The Iranians are still blocking the access of humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo and Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan’s statement a day after the truce which started with a warning about the exploitation by the Syrian opposition of the truce in Aleppo, is a clear evidence of obstruction of Iranians for such assistance. Furthermore, the launch by regime forces of two S-200 rockets against Israeli aircraft, in the area of Quneitra few days ago, is another message to their Russian ally, before it would be to Israel, that Iran will drag things to the opposite direction from Moscow’s intentions.
Finally, the incident in the city of Deir ez-Zor few days ago, targeting regime aircraft position on Mount Thardah by the American air force, was an explicit message from the Pentagon to the US State Department on the one hand and towards Kerry-Lavrov agreement on the other. This message will mean the end of this agreement in the coming days.
In the field, the battles will flare up again in the vicinity of Aleppo. Russians will escalate more and more their military operations, while the Syrian opposition will not be satisfied on the continued siege of the 400.000 civilians inside the city. On the other hand, Turkish troops are preparing to start a large military operation against the Syrian city of Tel Abiad and then will head to Raqqa city to liberate it from the hands of ISIS. This move came after the visit of the Russian Chief of Staff to Ankara three days ago, and has the approval of the US administration in an effort to re-establish Turkish-American relations at the expense of the Kurds in Syria.
Eva J. Koulouriotis is Greek political analyst specialized in Middle East. She has studied Economics, Public Policy and Business Administration. She is a member of the Greek political party of “Nea Demokratia”, head of the Women’s entrepreneurship section.
Twitter: @evacool_f, Facebook: @evakoulouriotis