US – Russia deal on Syria is a de facto acceptance of Assad’s position

The deal is that US backed rebels will not fight with forces  backed by Russia (Assad’s). That will allow the US, Russia and their proxies to fight ISIS forces wherever they may be in Syria and Iraq. However it is unlikely that Turkey will refrain from attacking Kurdish groups who are also in the front line against ISIS.

PHOTO: Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speak at a press conference, Sept. 9, 2016.

If the deal holds it effectively consolidates Assad’s improving position on the ground. But even if the deal does not hold, the US anti-Assad position is grossly undermined.

Reuters: 

The United States and Russia reached a breakthrough deal early on Saturday to try to restore peace in Syria, but air strikes hours later added to rebels’ doubts that any ceasefire could hold.

The agreement, by the powers that back opposing sides in the five-year-old war, promises a nationwide truce from sundown on Monday, improved access for humanitarian aid and joint military targeting of hardline Islamist groups.

But hours later, jets bombed a marketplace in rebel-held Idlib in northwestern Syria, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens, according to locals and rescue workers who said they believed the planes to be Russian.

Idlib province has endured escalating strikes by Russian jets in recent months, according to international aid workers and residents, destroying scores of hospitals, bakeries and other infrastructure across rebel-held territory.

Aleppo was also hit from the air and fighting continued on the ground. The army attacked rebel-held areas, both sides said, pushing to maximize gains before the ceasefire deadline. …….

Kerry said the “bedrock” of the new deal was an agreement that the Syrian government would not fly combat missions in an agreed area on the pretext of hunting fighters from the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria which has recently changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Under the new deal, both sides – Russian-backed government forces and rebel groups supported by the U.S. and Gulf states, – are to halt fighting as a confidence building measure.

If the truce holds from Monday, Russia and the United States will begin seven days of preparatory work to set up a “joint implementation centre”, where they will share information to distinguish territory controlled by Nusra from that held by other rebel groups.

Moon of Alabama has this analysis:

It looks as if there has been unseemly resistance to this agreement by parts of the U.S. government. This may have been just for show. But it may also be a sign that Obama lost control of the bureaucracy:

The proposed level of U.S.-Russian interaction has upset several leading national security officials in Washington, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, and Kerry only appeared at the news conference after several hours of internal U.S. discussions.After the Geneva announcement, Pentagon secretary Peter Cook offered a guarded endorsement of the arrangement and cautioned, “We will be watching closely the implementation of this understanding in the days ahead.”

If this deal falls apart, as it is likely to eventually do, all responsibility will be put onto Secretary of State Kerry. Indeed the military and intelligence parts of the U.S. government may well work to sabotage the deal while Kerry will be presented as convenient scapegoat whenever it fails.


 

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