Syrian ceasefire?

The announcement at the Munich Security Conference of a possible cessation of hostilities in Syria received a great setback with the announcement that both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are preparing to support the anti-Assad forces with troops on the ground, and that Russia will continue to attack anti-Assad forces despite the agreement.  In fact both Turkey and Russia are using the excuse of attacking supposed terrorist enemies to actually attack other foes.  In the case of Russia, they will continue to attack anti-regime forces that are not Islamist, while the Turks will take the opportunity to attack the Kurdish anti-Assad forces.   This has led to some strange bedfellows, since the Kurds and non-Islamist anti-Assad forces are supported by the US and NATO, while Turkey is a member of NATO and Russia is supposed to be an ally against the Islamic State.  What a mess, a real debacle.

It was stated by the Russian FM that the war in Syria could lead to a  new Cold War and even be the origin of WWIII.  A bit far-fetched, but not inconceivable.  While US Secty. of State Kerry in his speech at the Munich conference castigated the Russians and essentially pleaded with them to toe the line, there is not much chance of that happening.  Putin sees the weakness of US resolve, so he knows that he can  go ahead and support the Syrian Army against the non-Islamist opposition without incurring any negative response from the West.  Who cares if a few thousand more Syrian civilians are killed.  It is giving him a chance to let his forces gain real combat experience. The fact that last week both a school and a hospital were struck by Russian aerial missiles in the Kurdish anti-Assad area and ca. 50 civilians were killed, shows the degree of indifference of the Russians towards the issue of civilian casualties.

The latest news is that the Russians and the Americans have agreed on a ceasefire (cessation of hostilities) from next Saturday, and that each side is empowered to persuade their proxies to cease fire on that day.  This means the Russians have to get the Syrian Army and Assad’s supporters, Hizbollah and the Iranians, to stop.  While the Americans will get the Kurds, the Syrian Free Army and its supporters and the Saudis and Turks from continuing their attacks.  The ceasefire does not include the IS or al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda) or their allies, nor attacks against them.  Only time will tell if this works.  The aim is to get the UN humanitarian supplies to all civilians needing it.

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