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22 February 2016

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Laguerre

The question seems to me what the Russians think they are going to gain by this cease-fire. As you say, the rebels are very mixed together. If the agreement is only to continue war against UN-condemned rebels, then the US will have to reveal its intelligence about rebel positions, in order to define which positions can be legitimately attacked, and which protected. Or else it will be, sorry, we made a mistake.

walden

A commentator on RT's Crosstalk joked today that Russia probably does not expect much fruit from these diplomatic meetings but may see the sessions as a kind of seven-step group therapy to help the U.S./West come to grips with reality.

rakesh

Russian stocks went up

JJackson

I am not sure what really changed.
The SAA wake up to a quiet 'cessation of hostilities' first day and, not having much on, decide to go for a drive to Idlib. To everybody's shock someone shoots at them. They are obviously not signatures to the cessation agreement ergo open season.
How are you meant to know the motivation or allegiance of an RPG coming from a trench given the overlapping and shifting patchwork of factions in NW Syria.

SmoothieX12

"Are Lavrov and Kerry just playing kissy face for the world audience?"

Yes, this too. I will express here an opinion which may not seat that well with some people and I totally get it why. But it is a 800-pound gorilla of sorts in the room. While this agreement serves as one of the possible constrictive measures for Erdogan and his possible suicidal decision which may lead to some serious consequences, this agreement also gives US what is being discussed increasingly in the loud voice--the face-saving way out. After all, none other than Ralph Peters stated that Russian military wanted to humiliate US. We may, of course, spend some time discussing the validity of Peters' point, but there is no doubt that this whole Syria situation does portray US in not very favorable light, to put it mildly. Even this French shill Loran Fabius talked about it today. Implementation of some kind of cease fire, especially under common Russo-American agreement could play a very important un-humiliating role and does, indeed, create the room fro US. Will this cease fire hold or not is, of course, the whole other story and as the saying goes, will cross that bridge.... Russia never wanted to humiliate USA, she was too busy dealing with what does amount to clear and present danger to Russia's southern soft-belly.

Bill Herschel

From the American point of view, the entire purpose of the cessation of hostilities agreement was to get out from under 2254.

I guarantee Lavrov did not permit that to happen and that, if anything, in its entirety it recapitulates and reconfirms 2254 and tightens the embrace of 2254 on the United States.

Humanitarian aid? The Russians are all for humanitarian aid. Why shouldn't they be?

charly

I think it is not meant to be a cease fire for Northern Syria ("Northern" as in everything above Damascus) but one for the South and i think (hope) that part will hold.

Prem

Interesting State Dept. quote in the jpost:


"Russia and the regime will target the areas of the revolutionaries on the pretext of the Nusra Front's presence, and you know how mixed those areas are, and if this happens, the truce will collapse," he said.

But the Obama administration responded to that criticism swiftly on Monday afternoon, defending their decision to exclude the terrorist organization from any cease-fire, as well as Washington's ability to identify its whereabouts.

"If you hang out with the wrong folks," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, "you choose who you hang out with, and that sends a signal."


http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Cease-fire-in-Syria-set-for-Saturday-at-midnight-445756


So, are they throwing the moderate head-choppers under the bus?

aleksandar

tks walden, you made my day !

Matthew

Too clever by half. See https://twitter.com/yeh1a/status/701895285052719106.

The FSA used Al-Nusra as a force multiplier. They seeded their TOW commandos into Al Nursa. And now they realize Uncle Sam agreed to a deal that permits the Russians and Assad to continue to hit Nusra.

I'm crying crocodile tears here.

turcopolier

smoothiex12

If you take Peters seriously you don't belong here. pl

NotTimothyGeithner

Most Western populations never supported the attacks on Syria or would really care if a "good" militia stopped tweeting because they were "accidentally" bombed from existence despite being on the okay list. Obama does not want a larger war. All Obama wants is a chance to walk away at this point without raising too many questions about what his Syria policy was all about.

Vic

This maybe a big win for the Syrian Army.

If they are allowed to still attack ISIS and JN that will result in the so called "moderates" allowing Syrian forces to advance onto their flanks. That will put the moderate forces in an untenable position (unless they also pull back). It will also allow the Syrian Army to greatly increase the mass they can throw at ISIS and JN defensive lines.

ISIS and JN might attack Moderate positions in order to move into protected areas. This will only make the rebels that much weaker. ISIS and JN can also be expected to launch attacks from areas held by moderates in order to get the Syrian Army to launch counter attacks against the moderates.

This cease fire agreement gives the Syrian Army a huge tactical and operational military advantage. Makes me wonder if State Department sent it over to the Pentagon to see what second or third order military effects this agreement would have.

leCashier

Have to admit this is way above my pay grade but I’ll give it a shot. (Im a cashier as my nom de plume indicates.) Does it somehow give the US cover to keep Erdogan at bay? Maybe thats the deal. Cease fire that really doesn't mean anything on the ground or air, keeps Turkey at bay (temporarily?)and helps out Kerry and the Ds. Kerry can go home and say look I tamed the Russian Bear. A Turkey escalation does the Democrats no good in the general election neither HRC nor BS. “Trickery, delusions, fantasies” its a presidential election year!

Markf

As a certifiable optimist, I am thinking about Panmunjom. Talks can be venue for:
1. High level military crisis management
2. Political as well as military deconfliction, especially in todays world, substituting BS for escallation
3. Negotiation of various partitioning schemes?

turcopolier

markf

An armistice in Korea was possible because there was a stable military situation from one coast to the other of a peninsula. Do you see something like that in Syria? Partition? Where would you draw the lines? Do you think the Sunni Wahhabi jihadis would accept a separate state for Alawis, Druze, Christians, Shia, etc.? pl

robt willmann

Here is the "joint statement" of the U.S.A. and the Russian Federation of today, in which they say: "as co-chairs of the ISSG and ISSG Ceasefire Task Force, announce the adoption on February 22, 2016, of the Terms for a Cessation of Hostilities in Syria attached as an Annex to this statement, and propose that the cessation of hostilities commence at 00:00 (Damascus time) on February 27, 2016. The cessation of hostilities is to be applied to those parties to the Syrian conflict that have indicated their commitment to and acceptance of its terms."--

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/02/253115.htm

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a press release, in which he called the "joint statement" and its "annex" an "agreement"; it is here--

http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/02/253117.htm

I have to try to read the "joint statement", the "annex" (the "terms for cessation of hostilities in Syria"), and UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

An average teenager will ask which parties, if any, "to the Syrian conflict have indicated their commitment to and acceptance of its terms" (the terms for cessation in the annex).

As a good Texas courtroom lawyer once said, "Is that a letter or a contract"?

J

The ceasefire is supposed to begin the 27th at midnight.

bth

I'll take a flier here and speculate that it is about setting a clock for a few other events and has little to do with a working ceasefire in Syria.

For one thing it may be forcing a time clock on the Iranians to reach an agreement with the Russians on key defense equipment purchases - missile defense (S300 and perhaps even S400) and Su30 aircraft. Russian defense minister made unannounced trip to Tehran and there was reportedly work through the weekend.

Also I suspect the bill for the humanitarian aid and possible follow on reconstruction will be much larger than estimated and to be borne by the 'international community' going forward.

And I would look to see if there is about to be another Erdogan organized mass migration into EU to be magically resolved by economic aid to Turkey on behalf of the Syrian refuges. There is diplomatic summit scheduled on Thursday in Brussels so expect the shakedown of Europe to reach a peak on schedule.

Last, I would look for some sort of deal in the March timeframe on Ukraine and Russian economic sanctions relief contingent on some sort of papered over plan in Syria whether it has basis in fact or not.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

Yes, the ceasefire will be hellish getting the bloodied ethnic militias to stand down plus the alien Dead-Enders seeking paradise but it is a hell of lot better than if Turkey-Saudi Arabia invaded or if a shooting war starting between USA and Russia. It may turn out to be futile but we will be alive during the interim.

Maybe this time, the USA will leave the local Muslims alone as long as they get rid of the foreign true believers infesting their land. Indeed, Russia has more incentive than America to assure that this takes place.

mbrenner

Any so-called cease-fire accord that require 5 pages of exposition obviously is so intricate and its provisions so qualified as to ensure that it will be picked apart in abortive implementation. It is a bit like Dodd-Franks - heralded as serious financial reform whose 1,000+ pages meant that it took 3 years to write the actual rules which turned out to be so feeble as to have almost no practical effect. It won't take 3 years for the "cease fire" to be declared null-and-void.

turcopolier

VietnamVet

Turkey-Saudi Arabia are not going to invade Syria. The US and Russia are not going to war over Syria. If the jihadis are left intact in Syria they will eventually rule the country. pl

Jack

All

What do you think is the motivation of Russia to do this deal with Obama/Kerry?

BTW, I don't believe R+6 is going to stop the annihilation of the jihadists who are on the run.

Fred

Col.,

Does this piece of paper give plausible deniability to the R+6 if there is a renewal of hostilities - for example another once car bombing after the deadline? Will Obama use this cease fire as an excuse to move US attention to trying to stabilize Libya? (If we are actually trying to do that).

Bill Herschel

If the Toner quote is correct, then Saudi Arabia and Israel have been thrown under the bus.

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