Syria ceasefire: Is US-Russia deal important and will truce hold?

The winners and losers and the ramifications of the historic agreement

By Patrick Cockburn

Is the agreement important?

It is very significant inside and outside Syria because it is between the US and Russia, the most powerful players in the Syrian conflict, who can put pressure on their allies and proxies to comply. It is important too because it is the sign of a change in the international political landscape: Russia is back as a superpower – certainly in the Middle East and perhaps globally – for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The intention of US and Russia to closely cooperate in a joint air campaign against Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda now relabelled as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, is unprecedented.

Will the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad keep the ceasefire?

Yes, because it has said it will and is dependent on Russian air support and weapons supply. But, equally important, it is in its interests to do so because the US and Russia will be targeting al-Nusra, the Salafi-jihadi movement which is the main fighting arm of the non-Isis rebel movement. It has been in the forefront of all successful rebel offensives. If the armed opposition no longer contains al-Nusra and Isis, then it will be substantially neutered when it comes to fighting the Syrian Army and its allies. This is a big gain for Assad.

Read the full article on Independent

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