Thursday, December 29, 2016

Three Documents Signed- Syrian Ceasefire Begins at Midnight

Necessary Background:

Breaking news the last hour or so..

MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. Agreements have been achieved on a ceasefire in Syria and the readiness to start peace talks, according to Vladimir Putin.
"Reports have just arrived that several hours ago there was a development that we all have looked and worked for for so long. Three documents have been signed. A ceasefire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition is the one. A package of measures to control the ceasefire is the other. There is also a declaration of readiness to enter peace talks on Syrian conflict settlement," Putin said at a meeting with Russian foreign and defense ministers.
Russia, Turkey, Iran undertake commitments to guarantee peaceful settlement in Syria. The deal is the result of Russia’s cooperation with partners in the region, Putin emphasized.
"No doubt, the agreements reached are fragile and demand special attention and assistance with the goal of preservation and development. But nevertheless, this is a notable result of our joint work, efforts of the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and our partners in the regions," Putin said at the meeting with the foreign and defense ministers.
Putin said the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry were constantly in a contact with partners in Damascus and other capitals. "They did a very great job jointly with partners from Turkey. We know that most recently a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran was held in Moscow where the three countries undertook commitments both on control and guarantees of peaceful settlement in the Syrian Republic."
"As we understand very well, all the agreements reached are very fragile, they demand special attention and patience, a professional approach to these issues and a constant contact with our partners," Putin stressed
 UPDATE # 1:

 Putin Speaks- Russian only


 This agreement we’ve reached is very fragile, as we all understand. They require special attention and patience, professional attitude, and constant contact with our partners,” Putin said

The first was signed by the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition to stop hostilities in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. The second one is a set of measures to control the ceasefire. The third document is a declaration of intention for Syrian settlement,” the Russian president said

The agreement is the result of joint efforts by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the president said.
Great work has been done in cooperation with our partners from Turkey. We know that only recently there was a trilateral meeting in Moscow of the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, where all of the nations made obligations not only to control, but also to act as guarantors of the peace process in Syria.

The truce is supported by seven major armed opposition groups that have over 60,000 fighters in their ranks, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.

The minister said under the deal any armed group that refuses to cease hostilities would be considered a legitimate target for the use of force, as is the case with terrorist groups Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, which are not included in the truce. Shoigu added that if the agreement holds, it would allow Russia to scale down its military presence in Syria.

He added that he will contact his Iranian and Turkish counterparts to discuss further steps in the Syrian peace process.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the three nations are preparing a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, to pave the way for peace talks on Syria.
Lavrov said that the ceasefire agreement would be submitted to the UN Security Council later on Thursday for potential endorsement.(RT's reporting, but, doesn't appear to be what Lavrov is saying? I wouldn't think they need the UN's endorsement or approval)
We will inform UNSC members of the work we have done and answer their questions,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Turkey and Russia will act as guarantors of the truce, which does not include groups designated as terrorists by the United Nations.
Ankara has called on all parties that can exert influence on armed groups to support the ceasefire deal.
Damascus has confirmed that it will observe the truce starting at midnight local time on December 30 (22:00 GMT December 29).
The rebel National Coalition announced its support for the ceasefire deal, AFP reported. Zakaria Malahifji, who represents the Free Syrian Army-affiliated rebel group Fastaqim, has confirmed supporting the truce to Reuters.

Update # 2:

The draft text of just one of the three documents signed - Set of Measures to Control the Ceasefire

Pretty straightforward stuff.
The text is not the final version signed by the all parties, the channel said in its web page, citing Bassam Barabandi, the senior advisor to the opposition High Negotiations Committee.
According to the channel, Hadi Al Bahra, spokesperson of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), also confirmed the document. "Daesh and groups designated by the UN as terror organisations would be excluded from the deal," Al Bahra was quoted as saying in the piece.
The translation of the text is as follows:
1- A ceasefire in all Syrian territory excluding military HQs in areas under Daesh control. The ceasefire will continue as long as the political process is ongoing.
2- The Turkish government guarantees the commitment of the opposition in all the areas that the opposition controls to the ceasefire, including an end to any type of shelling.
3- The Russian Federation guarantees the commitment to the ceasefire, including all types of aerial bombardment and artillery shelling, of the Syrian gov't and its allies in all the territory that they control.
4- The guarantors of the agreement will ensure that the parties in the conflict will not attempt to seize new areas that were not under their control prior to the ceasefire.
5- The guarantors of the agreement will present an appropriate mechanism to monitor the ceasefire based on UN frameworks after the parties agree to these terms.
6- Negotiations will begin as to a political solution one month into the ceasefire.
7- Humanitarian aid will be delivered to all of the besieged areas according to a plan where Russia and Turkey will guarantee full compliance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin also spoke Thursday on the phone regarding the developments. The two leaders reportedly discussed the cease-fire and the Astana process. The ceasefire will be in effect on December 30
Update # 3:

Italy: (no doubt speaking on behalf of the US)- UN Talks Only Solution for Syria 

 Only talks at the United Nations can pave the way for a solution to the Syrian crisis, Premier Paolo Gentiloni said Thursday. The only "credible" way forward, he said, "can only be opening serious talks on the transition handled by the UN. "It is very hard to imagine a different solution, we have to get there and I hope Russia helps arrive at this solution: the UN, transition, and dialogue between Bashar al-Assad and the oppositions". Gentiloni said "certainly we have behind us dramatic months and months of diplomatic failures, to be frank.
    Gentiloni said "we had a format born in February in Munich and which seemed very promising, 18 countries including Italy around the table, at the head were Lavrov and Kerry and around it Iranians, Turks, Saudis, the different subjects we had to involve to reach peace.
    "This operation initially produced results...but then what happened? I must say that many worked against this US-Russian collaboration".
 I addressed the inevitable machinations that will be engaged in to  undermine this agreement in my December 26th post- A Ceasefire In Syria? - Not if the US & co Have Their Way! 

Gentiloni is regurgitating John Kirby's previous sputum:
 John Kirby said "we believe that this process should continue to be under UN auspices and that should be led by Staffan de Mistura."

"And it is up to him to determine where and how and when they will occur, not to the United States; we’re not taking a position on that," he said”

As I pointed out three days ago...

Why should this or any decision be made by the UN Envoy? It seems that negotiators from Iran, Turkey, Russia and Syria are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves. No need to be dictated to.. The entire UN  process has been a fail!  Staffan de Mistura has been a total fail.  Geneva has been a fail.
It really appears the US is determined to turn the potential ceasefire into yet another one of their fails!
Pushing for UN involvement only makes sense in the context of the US wanting this agreement and a potential Syria wide ceasefire to fail!




    1. thanks Ally! I will be reading those asap
      you are one busy investigator :)

  2. You do know, Penny, that the US will indeed find some way to screw up this "ceasefire" as they always do...

    And of course the criminals will use this "respite" of a "ceasefire" to rearm themselves with those swell American weapons bought and paid for by gullible American taxpayers, and then redeploy around Syria to launch further attacks...It has happened in every single "ceasefire" before now and I doubt if this one will be any different!

    1. Hey North! Yup I know it! Knew they would even before the t's were crossed and the i's dotted.

      I had mentioned it in a post on December 26.

      Though to be honest this ceasefire is a very different animal from the previous ceasefire but that won't stop the usual suspects from trying to undermine it..

  3. Just an fyi:
    I've updated the post with two new bits of info
    the draft text of one of the agreements
    and Italy channeling John Kirby calling for all this to be done only through the UN

  4. Penny:

    What do you think of this posters comment. I repeat its not mine, but from another site:

    " It's looking to me that the Russian deal with Turkey involves Turkey basically gaining total control of the North-Western pocket of Syria. That area of Aleppo province West of the Euphrates and North of Aleppo City and across to the Turkish border.

    Crucially that includes Manbij and the entire Afrin pocket. That will be the trade-off Russia enforces on Syria and the penalty for the Kurds for attacking the SAA at Hasakah (sp?).

    The Kurds will get a sort of autonomy for the remainder of their border area. The question becomes then, what becomes of Idlib and the ISIS held area from Raqqa to Iraq - the Eastern Syrian desert? I'd suggest that part is up to the allied forces of Syria-Iran-Russia-Hezbollah etc. to win back on the battlefield.

    The question then becomes, will the US accept this eventually under a President Trump? My feeling is yes, they have other fish to fry, and turning US support for Syrian rebels off (al-Qaeda, ISIS & friends) will obviously be a great help to the Allies of Syria-Iran-Russia-Hezbollah etc. - but if Turkey manages to win reasonably quick victories in al-Bab, Manbij & Afrin, what will happen then? The Turkish Government has on several occasions mentioned that they will march to and liberate Raqqa. I really doubt that is acceptable to any of Russia, Iran & especially Syria.

    It must even be a bitter pill to swallow for Syria that it looks like the North Aleppo countryside looks like becoming a permanent Turkish protectorate. I doubt either Iran or Russia will ever see a benefit in fighting a military battle against Turkey over North-Western Syria - that strip of land is basically irrelevant for Iran's priorities of maintaining the Shia crescent (which by the way Turkey might also see benefit in maintaining as a check on regional rival Israel), while that strip of land is also irrelevant to Russia as it is of no help for the Qatari gas pipeline.

    It could be that if this is the deal, the eventual winners of the Syrian War will be in order - Turkey (gained land), Syrian Kurdistan (gained a degree of autonomy like Iraqi Kurdistan), Israel (weakened a significant neighbouring country greatly), Iran (maintained the Shia crescent), Russia (maintained the status quo in their terms which prevents Qatari gas pipelines to Europe)

    While the losers are Syria (dismembered and significantly weakened - but we've known for five years that Syria is the biggest loser out of this whole mess), Qatar (no gas pipeline for you), Saudi Arabia (significantly weakened vis-a-vis their regional rival Iran), a whole bunch of spineless European leaders - but have their countries actually lost much? If the end result is these countries end up exiting the European Union as a knock on effect from the refugee crisis (which will be renewed in 2017 just you watch as Erdogan pushes them all into Europe in 6 months to destroy once and for all Merkel), one could even say they will in the end actually benefit from the whole Syrian debacle.

    As for the US - I think it's a draw if that's how it ends up. If Trump manoeuvres the US closer to Putin & Russia over the next 4 years and uses that leverage against China - as seems most likely to be his intent, has the US really lost much in Syria? I'd say no - it is actually peanuts like Obama, Clinton & Kerry who will be seen as the big losers in the US for their insane and stupid feckless policies - not really the US itself. "

    1. Given the experience of the past decades is it believable to assume the US is going to reinforce a pivot to China and by default the sco and have the Russians on board. Same US policy culdesac just a more circuitous route.

    2. AnonymousDecember 30, 2016 at 4:22 PM

      Given the experience of the past decades is it believable to assume the US is going to reinforce a pivot to China and by default the sco and have the Russians on board. Same US policy culdesac just a more circuitous route.

      I'm not certain what you mean..
      can you clarify, thanks?

  5. Mieszko I:

    I have stated here previously there seemed to be some sort of deal- Turkey's insistence that the Kurds go back across the Euphrates- Why? Why only across the Euphrates?

    That had to have been something Russia, Turkey and Syria were all aware of. Probably Iran.

    "The Kurds will get a sort of autonomy for the remainder of their border area"

    I guess that's the least worse scenario- however it's a reward for their terrorism they shouldn't receive.

    That said... the US and Israel wanted the Kurds to take the entire northern border of Syria- straight through to the Med. this has to do with pipelines of course- (kurds ability to ship via the water)

    Israel of course would love to have the Kurds take the area from the Med to the Euphrates also- greater Israel.

    The Kurds have recently rebranded rojova, erasing it's kurdishness to encompass arabs, or so the story goes..

    This may be the countermove the US and Israel are trying to make- Their Northern Syria (rebrand) will be holding hands and singing with the arabs-

    Turkey won't tolerate this because it's just an extension of the entire SDF ruse- an arab veneer on the PKK

    I don't see that Turkey's gaining territory- the comment doesn't state how that is being done- they've got their wall etc., However they will try to impose a great deal of influence..

    I don't see that Erdogan pushed refugees in Europe-
    that was entirely a NATO operation through and through- last I had checked NATO was pouring the refugees in from North Africa via Italy- Erdogan didn't look to be a player in that scenario--

    Turkey, IMO, needs the refugees to repopulate northern Syria... Turkey would gain more influence by moving them back, building homes and hospitals- goodwill buys a whole lot of loyalty- And the benefit of impeding the kurds.

    Syria is already weakened.
    Israel benefits always- no matter which scenario unfolds
    It really comes down to what the US is willing to accept.
    If the rebrand of rojova is any indication the US is not willing to accept the compromise

    1. I am worried that one day these PKK terrorists will start attacking Europe. Their demonstrations are freely held across the continent and Erdogan has said that they will one day attack us. The EU is playing a dangerous game with this group.

    2. Ally- I am worried that one day these PKK terrorists will start attacking Europe.

      Pretty sure they have already engaged in terror attacks