Cease-fire Agreement

| 30 DECEMBER 2016

A cease-fire agreement has been concluded in Syria. So announced the Russian president, Vladamir Putin, in the presence of his Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense [1]. Russia and Turkey are its guarantors. The Islamic Republic of Iran participated in drawing up the agreement but is [now] staying quietly in the background.

Three documents have been signed by the Arab Syrian Republic and seven rebel groups representing more than 60,000 jihadists:

1. Faylaq al-Sham (4,000 combatants)
2. Ahrar al-Sham (16,000 combatants)
3. Jaysh al-Islam (12,000 combatants)
4. Suvar agi-Sham (12,000 combatants)
5. Jaysh al-Mujahidin (8,000 combatants)
6. Jaysh Idlib (6,000 combatants)
7. Jabhat al-Shamiyah (3,000 combatants)

The three documents are:

  • A cease-fire (which does not apply to al-Qaeda and Daesh) over the entire territory starting this evening (Thursday 29 December 2016), at midnight local time.
  • Measures aimed at respecting the truce and deploying Russian forces.
  • The conditions for peace negotiations which will take place at Astana (Kazakhstan). Iran and Egypt will be included in these negotiations and the United States will be able to join them once President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in (that is after 20 January 2017). Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar and the United Nations will be consulted.

The agreement shatters the unity of the jihadists, splintering them into two groups: in one camp, are those who will pursue the objectives of Nato and who have refused to sign it; and in the other camp are those who have accepted to give up arms.

In sponsoring this agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey – a Nato member– has abandoned its ambition to become the leader of the Sunni world and has distanced itself from the United States.

The National Coalition of opposition forces and the revolution announced its support for this agreement.

At the beginning of the month, Qatar withdrew from the war against Syria. It has become a shareholder of Rosneft, the biggest company in the world and has aligned its energy policy to Russia’s.

This agreement has been under discussion for two months. The parties that oppose it – notably Israel and the United Kingdom – have tried to scupper it by assassinating the Russian ambassador at Ankara, then by bombing the Russian embassy at Damascus on 28 and 29 December.

The United States, France and the United Kingdom are not participating in this cease-fire. Washington has been accused by President Erdogan of continuing to support Al-Qaeda and Daesh, something which the US ambassador to Ankara has denied. However on 23 December, the outgoing president Barack Obama signed a fiscal defense law authorizing the delivery of arms to the “opposition” (sic) in Syria.

Saudi Arabia, which has not commented on the agreement, announced coming to the aid of Syrian refugees. The Kingdom should distribute humanitarian aid, exclusively from the mosques that it has set up in the refugee camps.

President Putin has ordered his Defense Minister to reduce Russian military presence in Syria. However, Russia will continue to take action against terrorism (al-Qaeda and Daesh).

The war against Syria has cost the lives of at least 300, 000 Syrians. It was planned by the United States and its NATO partners and financed by the Gulf Monarchies.

Anoosha Boralessa

Jihadists in Syria

On 19 December 2016, the jihadists of Ahrar al-Sham (Islamic Movement of the free people of Sham) — the leading group of “moderates”  rejected merging with Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of Sham) during a meeting of their Council.

This Council convened just before East Aleppo was liberated which represents a major defeat for Ahrar al-Sham.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formally known as Al-Nusra, is the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda.

In the photo above, the two groups appear already very close: a white flag for Ahrar al-Sham, a black flag for Al-Qaeda.

After Turkey seems to have abandoned the objective of toppling the Arab Syrian Republic, different groups of jihadists are seeking out fresh sources of support and are turning towards Saudi Arabia.

Anoosha Boralessa