Russia Prosecuting the Peace in Syria as Vigorously as It Prosecuted the War
March 8, 2016 (EIRNS)—Alexander Mercouris, writing in Russia Insider and drawing on a series of reports from the BBC, describes the process in Syria, where Russian mediators (from the military) are fanning out across the country to negotiate local peace deals.
Most of the armed groups they’re in contact with are not actually organized opposition, but militias that arose in areas where government authority had collapsed after the Syrian army was forced to withdraw. Many of these groups, Mercouris writes,
"have in fact paraded at various times under the banner of the Free Syrian Army—the main Western backed Syrian rebel group — primarily in order to get hold of the Western supplies that have been flooding into Syria since the war began."
However, "most of these militias have no very strong commitment to any side in the war, and are reluctant to move and fight outside their own areas."
These militias see the jihadi groups such as ISIS and Al Nusra as rivals and, since the United States has not been able to guarantee their safety, they have been gravitating towards the Russians and the Syrian government for protection.
"Having forced the United States to agree to the truce, the Russians are now busy contacting as many of these people as they can, brokering ceasefire agreements between them and the Syrian authorities, which in reality are not so much ceasefires, but rather local peace agreements, delineating territory, agreeing on terms for the provision of supplies, and setting up dispute-resolution procedures, whilst preparing the ground for an overall peace settlement, which the Russians are busy putting together in Geneva."
Mercouris contrasts the Russian approach, to that of the United States in the so-called Anbar Awakening in Iraq in 2007. In Iraq, the United States, instead of engaging with the Iraqi army, roped the Sunni tribes into directly fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq (which then morphed into what we call ISIS today), thus undermining authority of the government in Baghdad. The Russians are working to re-establish government authority in areas where it was lost and freeing up the Syrian army to fight the real threats to Syria, Al Nusra and ISIS.
"Since the Syrian army is an institution of the Syrian state, the effect should be to rebuild the state’s authority, not undermine it," writes Mercouris.
"The reason the Russians are able to broker peace agreements where everyone else has failed is because the militias know that if they do not agree to them they risk being branded ‘terrorists’ by the Russians and bombed by the Russian air force, whose deadly efficiency even NATO is now grudgingly admitting."
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