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Ceasefire in Syria is desirable but hardly achievable goal

February 12, 16:20 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. Consent achieved in Munich to start formulating conditions for a ceasefire in Syria was a step in the right direction, but quite a few obstructions will have to be surmounted on the way, polled experts have told TASS.

In Thursday’s late night talks delegates representing the International Syria Support Group at the Munich Security Conference agreed to present the modalities for terminating hostilities in the country’s territory for one week. A special group under two co-chairs - Russia and the United States - will oversee the efforts.

"During this period of time the government of Syria and the opposition groups will be able to take the necessary measures to get ready for the termination of hostilities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. In the meantime, Russia’s air group in Syria will go ahead with operations against the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations. As US Secretary of State John Kerry said, the arrangement "will apply to any and all parties in Syria with the exception of the terrorist organization Daesh [IS] and al-Nusra, and any other terrorist organizations designated by the Security Council."

The president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, believes that number one factor that prompted the International Syria Support Group to search for a ceasefire regimen is the awareness the Middle East is on threshold of a major regional war.

"At the current phase of the crisis the worst threat comes from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans for opening a ‘northern front’ and establishing control of Syria’s former capital Aleppo, which Bashar Assad’s army is now thrusting towards," he said.

"As follows from Ankara’s logic, Erdogan will certainly be doing his utmost to disrupt talks on a ceasefire in Syria. Moreover, he will be doing so with great pleasure. Washington will hardly be able to put pressures on him," Satanovsky said.

The president of the Institute of Religion and Politics, Alexander Ignatenko, sees three subgroups within the International Syria Support Group, or the so-called Vienna process: the talks’ enthusiastic supporters, those who will participate in the process with no enthusiasm, and opponents, who will be hampering the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement.

"Obviously, Russia and the United States, whatever their contradictions, will be pressing for the solution agreed on in Munich. Either co-chair will be urging its allies to follow suit. The United Arab Emirates and a number of countries within the International Support Group will have no objections. And Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are against. The latter three are no easy partners to do business with. The coordination process will be rather tough. This explains why one week has been reserved for formulating the modalities regarding the approach to the ceasefire," Ignatenko told TASS.

He understands the term ‘modality’ as follows: "Most probably the point at issue is who will participate in the ceasefire regimen and what groups it will not apply to."

In particular, Ignatenko emphasized what Kerry said about the exceptions to be made - the groups that would remain outside the agreements’ framework - Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and any other terrorist organizations the UN Security Council would name.

"It is not ruled out that the process will begin of complementing the UN Security Council’s list with other Islamic groups, such as Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham. Russia has already addressed the UN Security Council with such a proposal, but no decision has been made. The United Arab Emirates back in 2014 included Ahrar ash-Sham in its list of terrorist organizations," Ignatenko said.

He believes that the Munich agreement to move towards ceasefire in Syria is a step in the right direction by and large, for the question of war and peace in the whole of the Middle East heavily depends on it.

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