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Liberation: In Syria, Putin still has the ability to be proactive

Fabrice Balans

Earlier in the week was made two announcement on Syria: ceasefire scheduled for February 27 and parliamentary elections in April. «Too good to this it was possible to believe,» says Fabrice Balans in an article published in the newspaper Liberation.

«The announcement by the United States and Russia on ceasefire, and a statement of Bashar al-Assad on holding parliamentary elections on 13 April should give us optimism on Syria? In fact, Moscow and Damascus slyly obey the peace plan of the UN (resolution 2254 dated December 18, 2015) — on their terms and according to their time frame. Vladimir Putin is playing chess, and he always acts the lead, while his opponents are content to be poorly organized defence,» the author writes.

Balans sure that one of the reasons why Russia agreed to a cease-fire, was the need for respite after large scale offensive of recent weeks. In addition, the terms of the armistice should not be wary of the counterattack. The second reason is probably the fact that Russia is a demonstration of his power expects to end support for the rebels, primarily from Turkey. The message is clear: stop supporting the rebels and close the border, otherwise we will do it ourselves with the assistance of the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) and will send you couple of million refugees.

Moreover, if Turkey decides to hit Kurdish PYD and their allies of the Democratic Syrian forces, or will again bomb the Kurds, it will be responsible for the violation of the truce, the author of this article.

«Vladimir Putin has declared that will put pressure on Bashar al-Assad to respect the ceasefire, and that he hopes that Barack Obama will do likewise in respect of their regional allies who continue to insist on Assad’s removal, — it is spoken further. A ceasefire means a de facto stay of his power, but the White house will be hard to get them to agree with Turkey and Saudi Arabia». Even if both the sponsor’s rebels will agree to play this game, they can hardly get it to comply with the terms of the ceasefire, all the rebel groups, who consider that they have been betrayed. The fragmentation of the rebel forces is another added obstacle to the implementation of the ceasefire. Would have to be questioned and the credibility of the United States, as allies of Moscow speak with one voice, and abide by the discipline, the author.

The main problem in the implementation of the truce is «Dzhabhat EN-Nusra». This is an offshoot of al-Qaida on the black list, as well as LIH. But «al-Nusra» is present on all fronts, from Deraa to the Damascus suburbs and Idlib villages. As closest allies factions will respect the ceasefire, if the organization of al-Jilani will bomb Russian aircraft or they themselves will be attacked for its support of the militants «An-Nusra»? — asks the journalist. No doubt the rebels will do everything to distance themselves from this branch of al-Qaeda and even to fight against him. All to end up being the rebel camp will be divided and will begin a fratricidal war. This is probably another hidden purpose of the armistice «variable geometry».

Perhaps after a victorious offensive in Aleppo Russia and the Syrian army will take action against ISIS? — the author writes. A series of offensive operations of the Syrian army could take position in Tabka, to then take the ISIS capital of Raqqa. This could increase the credibility of Assad and provide him the opportunity to strive for a new presidential mandate, which, ultimately, would justify Russian intervention. But raqqa as it seems, is not among the objects for the next few months.

Assad announced parliamentary elections do not contradict the Constitution and will be held under the usual schemes, continues Balans. Of course, the Baath party is no longer the ruling party, but the conditions of participation in the elections remain draconian and the results are not surprising. To begin with civilians: 6 million refugees and displaced persons from 21.5 million people in the country. Almost safe to say that in elections will take part the opposition, supported by Moscow, but they refuse to engage the opposition, supported by Riyadh. The big unknown is the participation in the elections PYD. The fact that the Kurdish party is represented in only three provinces and therefore does not meet the constitutional criteria. But in the interest of Assad to make concessions for the Kurds and to form subsequently a government of national unity, the article says.

«Five years after the start of the war, the humanitarian catastrophe and create the hotbed of jihadism at the gates of Europe, Western governments must decide whether the proposal of Moscow to save face in front of your public opinion. And it is all the more anxious because of the threat of terrorism and the influx of refugees and have — for democracy in Syria. If the Western countries will take them, Turkey will be isolated and will be forced to limit support for the Syrian rebels. Millions of Syrian refugees generated by the conflict, of course, a sharp weapon with which Putin makes enemies of Bashar al-Assad to cease hostilities», — concludes the author.

Liberation: In Syria, Putin still has the ability to be proactive 26.02.2016

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