The agreement for a temporary ceasefire in Syria reached last Friday in Munich among seventeen countries on an initiative of US and Russia, showed since its very beginning its limits. Not only for Assad’s words, who declared he did not want to stop the military offense in the north now that he is gaining ground, or for the Syrian rebels, who do not want to sign an agreement that enables the current Syrian President to stay in charge. But also external actors have weakened the “entente” starting from Russia, whose Foreign Affairs Minister Sergej Lavrov stated he did not want to stop the air attacks because IS and Jabhat alNusra must be fought.
Yesterday’s phonecall between President Obama and President Putin has lifted the hearts of the US and Russia but the situation is still complex because of other regional actors, such as Saudi Arabia, ready to send troops to Syria, and Turkey, which keeps bombing the Kurds’ positions.
The agreement was a first step. It is the beginning of a collaboration between US and Russia. Its objective is the end of the fight, and it must be implemented immediately. Then, there is another crucial point: the opening of humanitarian corridors. Postponing can have a very negative effect. The parts need time to consolidate their positions. Russia want to extend their control in the part of the territory they are taking for Assad. Turks are attacking the Kurds who are a major threat for them. And finally we do not know what IS will do as they are not part of this agreement.
The situation might evoke the Cold War, but it is different.
This first agreement has not solved the problems between US and Russia not only in Syria, but also in Ukraine. They do not share their views on the future of Syria. Moreover we do not know if they will be able to make other actors comply with the agreement. What about Assad? His position is not a priority anymore. The anti-Assad forces are not a homogenous coalition, there are many contrasts. In Syria there are factions inside of the country, contrasts between US and Russia, but also among the regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar. This agreement does not solve the Syrian crisis, it is just a first step and the next days will be an extremely delicate moment, when everyone will make their own interest. Turkey, for example, has the objective of avoiding the Kurds’ expansion which is a major threat for them and this is obviously in contact with the US who use Kurds to fight IS on its ground.