How while it is clear that the so-called moderate rebels against whom ceasefire provisions apply have shown no signs they will stop allying with ceasefire-ineligible Jihadist groups, Assad and Russia are being set-up to be blamed when they will continue to attack these groups as they are legally eligible to do (under the UNSC backed agreement and definition of ceasefire eligibility).
February 23, 2016
Western Media Pessimism
Anne Barnard, the New York Times‘ Middle East Bureau correspondent penned an article “Government in Syria and Some Rebel Groups Agree to Partial Cease-Fire” which is typical of the articles in much of Western media that are not just pessimistic about the US-Russia ceasefire holding, but ready to blame Assad and Russia – and not the Opposition and its US backers – for the ceasefire failing. (For some reason, curious headline construction: Government in Syria, not Syrian Government.)
Barnard’s article has some basic errors: for example she claims that both Russia and US are equally pessimistic about the ceasefire holding. This is false: while cautious, Putin spoke on TV to the nation praising the ceasefire after a call with Obama. Obama in contrast made do with a readout of the call distributed to the press. It’s clear Russia is trying to project an optimistic picture while the US Government is more low key and has put out a pessimistic viewpoint through its proxies. (Russia immediately also set up a hotline to the US from its main base in Syria.)
This speaks to the confidence Russia has that it and Syria can abide by the terms while the US has no idea whether it can control the fracticious rebels many of who complained that they weren’t talked to. In addition Turkey and other players are wild cards.
Failure of Previous Attempts
Western media point to previous failures. Whitewashed is that previous attempts at ceasefire failed because either (a) there was no unified opposition to represent all sides at talks (b) preconditions that Assad step down even before talks; or (c) opposition refused to even talk to the mediator without preconditions about ceasefire (the last one a few weeks ago).
Meanwhile the Government turned up each time to negotiate without preconditions.
The ISIS, Al-Nusra, Others-approved-by UNSC Exemption
Currently, a great deal is being made of Assad’s statement which agreed to the ceasefire but made it known that ISIS, al-Nusra and other organizations that the UNSC agrees are terrorists will be exempt.
Note that is the EXACT PHRASING OF THE US-RUSSIA AGREEMENT.
(Read the agreement in full including exclusions and responsibilities of all parties.)
Yet the claim is that Assad will take advantage of this clause to attack the “moderate” rebels.
While anyone can make this claim, Barnard’s article quotes the so-called opposition Syrian High Negotiations Committee (that doesn’t include Kurds) that Assad can’t be trusted and is likely to “break the ceasefire”.
Yet there is no quote or any hint that the HNC will avoid associating with ISIS or the Al-Nusra.
In other words, there is nothing guaranteeing that the so-called ceasefire eligible rebels will not ally with Al-Nusra or other organizations that UNSC consists terrorist.
Conclusion: Assad/Russia Will Be Blamed
Thus it’s clear that when Russia and Assad continue to go after Al-Nusra embedded within cities, as they are legally entitled to as per the agreement, the rebels and will claim Russia and Assad are breaking the cease-fire and fight back.
And the Western media will crow: We told you that Russia and Assad can’t be trusted. Indeed the narrative has been written. It just needs the rebels to continue to work with Al-Nusra and other UNSC labelled terrorist organizations for it to happen.
In anticipation of the ceasefire failing, John Kerry in remarks to the US Congress on Tuesday, February 23, has talked of a Plan B involving partition. This of course gives more incentive for the ceasefire to be broken by rebel forces given it’s unclear how much the US Government can control them to begin with.