Syria Peace Process Unraveling; Is Obama’s Plan B Next?
April 18, 2016 (EIRNS)—There are more and more reports in the Western media claiming that the Russia/U.S.-brokered truce in Syria is in the process of unravelling, and blame is most often laid at the feet of the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad and its Russian backers for allegedly violating the ceasefire and for refusing to accept the demand that Assad must leave before any political transition is agreed on. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was in Teheran over the weekend, calling on Iran to pressure Assad to accept "a political process that is successful." Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Tehran has no "red line" that would block Mr. Assad’s eventual departure. However,
"Everybody should get this message... They need to be serious. They need to try and end the conflict in Syria rather than to try and score geopolitical points... But it seems to us that Saudi Arabia has yet to understand the need and the imperative of peace and tranquility in this region. When they are ready, we will be ready too,"
The Saudi-backed opposition in Geneva seems to be on the verge of declaring the truce over and the talks at an end. In an internet message to fighters on the ground, Asaad al-Zoubi, chief negotiator for the Saudi-sponsored High Negotiations Committee, said there was a limit to how long he would negotiate if government advances continued and no progress developed on the opposition demand that Assad must go.
"We will not stay for long negotiating... In the event a missile targets them [rebels], they have to retaliate with ten missiles," said Zoubi. He added that rebels "must gain control of as many areas as possible, they must take advantage of the ceasefire as the regime has done."
Mohamed Alloouhs, a leader of the Saudi-backed Army of Islam and also a member of the HNC, called for rebel forces to "retaliate" against government forces that allegedly attack civilians, but, when questioned by Sputnik, backed away from any assertion that the truce should be ended.
The collapse of negotiations is exactly the condition mooted as necessary for Obama’s "Plan B"—arming the opposition with MANPADS, which could be used to shoot down Russian planes. Al Monitor, in its Week in Review column posted yesterday, warns that Plan B needs to be shelved, or better yet, shredded right away, for reasons including the fact that the so-called moderate groups to whom the CIA would be supplying more lethal weapons often run with Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al Nusra.
"The thought of advanced arms, including anti-aircraft weapons, falling into the possession of sectarian Salafi groups such as Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, which are fellow travelers with Jabhat al-Nusra, and are backed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, should be something to be avoided, not discussed,"
Al Monitor writes.