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Tryst with peace


A ceasefire comes into force in Syria at sunset on Monday, markedly a day before Id. In the twilight of Barack Obama&’s presidency, the world must hope that Saturday&’s forward movement will hold. The agreement concluded in Geneva by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, is primarily riveted to counter the surge of ISIS, to a lesser degree on the insurgents who have switched allegiance to the Caliphate, and with scarcely a focus on the continuance of Bashr al-Assad. The subtext is clear  the Kremlin will have to hold its fire, directed at the fundamentalist warriors. The big powers, if divided on the regional parameters, have once again agreed to agree, as did America and China with the endorsement last week of the climate deal, signed in Paris last December.

Geostrategy has taken a significant turn from the South-east to West Asia, but if Assad is allowed to entrench himself by the big powers, the progress over the weekend might turn out to be fragile yet again. The repression by the state has been no less mortal than the catastrophic fundamentalism. Neither the US nor Russia seems agreeable to rock the presidential boat in a part of the Arab region that has defied a solution for close to six years.

Yet going by recent experience, the Geneva pact cannot readily inspire optimism; a not dissimilar essay towards cessation of hostilities last February had come a cropper. Enough have perished, many more incapacitated , and hundreds of thousands reduced to the status of wandering refugees. Ergo, a cessation of hostilities in Syria, an almost intractable storm-centre, would be a profound development.

Having agreed with the US to launch what amounts to a joint air campaign against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al Qaida, Russia seems poised to become a super power once again. Whether or not the “joint implementation centre” will be established to pursue the signal of intent will hinge on whether the ceasefire holds for seven consecutive days. The other factor is whether the UN, generally ineffectual, will be able to provide aid to the besieged residents of Aleppo.

If the plan attains fruition, it will go a long way towards elevating the status of Russia at least in the Middle East. This without question has been the primary calculation of Vladimir Putin&’s Kremlin. This is doubtless a critical swingback from the heyday of the Cold War, though eyebrows are bound to be raised over an unscathed Assad. Unlike the other storm-centres in the region. a political transition in Syria is still a long way away. The road from Geneva remains fogbound.