The U.S, Russia, and Jordan have agreed once again to a partial ceasefire in Syria. But what does it mean, if anything?
The U.S., Russia, and third-signer Jordan today agreed to a ceasefire in Syria. The agreement was announced after the G20 Summit meeting of President Trump and Russian President Putin. It was revealed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who attended the meeting along with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. The agreement is a partial ceasefire as it applies only to a portion of southwest Syria. It is set to take effect at 12:00 p.m., Damascus time, on Sunday, July 9, along a complicated line that “affects Jordan’s security,” according to Tillerson. It is a re-attempt by U.S. and Russia to work together to solve the Syrian crisis.
This current agreement is said to be the result of months of secret meetings between the U.S. and Russia. The last ceasefire agreement was signed in September 2016. It ended when U.S. forces bombed a Syrian government facility. This created speculation that perhaps the U.S. State and Defense departments were not working to common ends. Then, in April, President Trump again angered Russia. He ordered the bombing of a Syrian air base. This was after it was confirmed that Syrian President Assad had ordered a chemical weapons attack on his own people. That included a group of children.
From a Reuters report, Tillerson is quoted as saying, “I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria, and as a result of that we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas.” He also indicated that the goals of the U.S. and Russia in Syria “are exactly the same.”
But there are already skeptics indicating that the ceasefire again may not hold. It seems that the level of commitment to the agreement may not be at a level to support it for long. Both Assad’s forces and the rebels appear to be less than dedicated to the agreement.
Another issue may be that, in spite of the agreement between the U.S. and Russia, there is dispute about Assad himself. Secretary Tillerson reiterated a U.S. point that there would be “no long-term role for the Assad family or the Assad regime. And we have made this clear to everyone. We certainly made it clear in our discussions with Russia.” This is in conflict with Russia’s position on Assad. He has been supported by Putin and Russian forces, giving Russia a stake in the Mediterranean area.
What will happen with this new ceasefire? It remains to be seen. But with commitment lagging and ultimate goals differing, it may be that this one lands on the same scrap heap as the last one. But if the U.S. and Russia are truly committed to a solution, maybe this time there will be lasting effect.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]