Welcome back to Trendstorm! Now, let’s take a look at the Syrian ceasefire:
Listen to the Interview:
The latest nationwide ceasefire to enter into force in Syria has raised high hopes that it will significantly alter the course of the war, while others are more pessimistic and think that it’s mostly just a symbolic move. The UN Security Council approved Resolution 2401 in response to the humanitarian crisis in the eastern Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta. The terrorists that occupy that “de-escalation zone” refused to lay down their arms and instead have been lobbying a volley of missiles at the capital, thus provoking the national military and their allies to commence decisive anti-terrorist strikes in the area.
Some civilians have inevitably been caught in the crossfire, though the true extent of their suffering is difficult to determine because the Mainstream Media and their so-called “White Helmet” allies have sought to manipulate the situation in order to reframe it as a repeat of the 2016 Aleppo campaign. Nevertheless, the Security Council felt strongly enough about the need to protect civilians that they passed the decree ordering that a 30-day ceasefire be implemented in the country, with Russia even going a step further to push for a five-hour humanitarian pause each day so that non-combatants can evacuate.
The caveat in all of this is that the ceasefire only applies to recognized “rebel” groups and not terrorists, meaning that the government’s liberation operations against such groups will continue. Not only that, but this workaround is already being exploited as a loophole by Turkey in order to continue “Operation Olive Branch” against the YPG Kurds, which suggests that it could also be taken advantage of by the US and Israel as well. This draws into question whether the latest ceasefire is more about symbolism than substance and simply in response to manipulated media reports about eastern Ghouta.
Whatever the case may be, the ceasefire resolution comes at a very sensitive moment for Syria when the Astana and Sochi peace processes are picking up while uninvited foreign military involvement is at an all-time high with the US and Turkey deepening their involvement in the country. On the one hand, a political solution is being progressively advanced in international venues, but on the other, a military one is being implemented in the northern corners of the Arab Republic. The contradiction between these two trajectories is further destabilizing Syria, and it’s in this context that the UN is found it fitting to push for a ceasefire.
Below is a transcript of the interview with Andrew Korybko and Sarah Abed.
Listen to the interview.
-The War on Syria is about much more than eastern Ghouta, with terrorists still present in Idlib and near the occupied Golan Heights border with Israel while Turkish and American forces occupy various corners of the country, so why is so much attention being given to this Damascus suburb right now?
-The main reason for this fixation is that the Syrian Arab Army using their Elite Tiger Forces recently launched a liberation campaign in East Ghouta where terrorist factions have been committing atrocities during the war against the civilians in Damascus and the neighboring areas for the last number of years. This is one of the last substantial terrorist held territories in the country.
-What we are seeing today as far as the misinformation laced narrative being spewed by western mainstream media can be best described as Aleppo 2.0. It mirrors what took place in Aleppo in December 2016. Much of the same propaganda is being repeated now with Ghouta that was being peddled against the Syrian Government, the Syrian Arab Army and their allies in 2016. It’s just a matter of changing a hashtag.
-Terrorists in East Ghouta have intensified their attacks on the 8 million residents in Damascus over the past few days they have launched 2,180 rocket and mortar shell, claiming the lives of over 66 civilians and injuring 474 others.
-What these reports have conveniently overlooked the fact that the families in the Eastern Ghouta region are besieged from inside by armed terrorist groups which use them as human shields and humanitarian aid intended for the civilians is being stolen or prevented from entering the area.
-Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, yesterday said that that the Syrian government had information that terrorists are planning a wide-scale chlorine gas attack with chlorine gas to accuse the Syrian Arab army of the crime.
(Some additional information that I did not mention in the interview but pertains to this planned chlorine attack)
-Speaking at the UN Security Council’s meeting on Wednesday, al-Jaafari added that terrorists have strict instructions from western and Turkish intelligence agencies to fabricate a terrorist attack before March 13th, the date on which the 87th session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be convened.
-As the Syrian Arab Army makes significant progress in countering the terrorist factions and trying to help the civilians escape the clutches of Al Qaeda and militant Salafist groups, the United State amps up its propaganda campaign. They are threatened by the gains being made by the Syrian army, in this case, the Elite Tiger Forces.
-Turkey said that the ceasefire doesn’t apply to Kurdish militias that it considers to be terrorists, and Syria hasn’t clearly said whether they consider the Turkish-backed militias to be terrorists or rebels, so what are the chances that these two countries might soon clash outside Afrin in spite of this ceasefire?
-Turkey’s main concern in Afrin due to its strategic location on its border and the concentration of YPG Kurdish militia who they consider to be a terrorist organization, they recently finished building a security belt around Afrin. Now whether or not Syria and Turkey will clash elsewhere in the country is difficult to say but it will be quite interesting to see whether or not Turkey ultimately respects Syria’s sovereignty.
-The United States and France have both stated that the UNSC ceasefire does, in fact, cover Afrin, with the US representative telling Erdogan to read it again, however, Erdogan shifted the blame on the Syrian government and urged the US to stop them from attacking innocent civilians. Erdogan is a loose cannon and his primary focus has been and will continue to what is best for himself and his country.
-Recently Syrian Popular forces entered Afrin to assist the YPG in defending the area against the Turkish onslaught. However, this hasn’t had much of an impact on Turkey’s Olive branch operation. This past Monday, Turkey deployed police special forces to Afrin for a “new battle” against the Kurdish YPG militia.
-How optimistic are you that this ceasefire will have any significant effect on the war, and what in your view would need to be done in order to make it more effective?
-The Syrian army using their elite Tiger forces division has been preparing to fight its fiercest battle yet, hundreds of thousands of civilians will be liberated, just like in Aleppo. They have already made some significant progress.
-The UNSC mandated ceasefire is destined to fail.
-The terrorist factions in east-Ghouta are disunited and are fighting among themselves but these groups have a common goal which is to keep the war going.
-Daily humanitarian pauses in Eastern Ghouta were announced by the Russian Defense Ministry on February 26. The first pause took place on February 27. The goal of the effort is to allow as many civilians as possible to evacuate from the combat area. The past three days civilians could not escape due to the militants preventing them and threatening to kill them if they made any attempts to leave.
-Yesterday Jaysh al-Islam militants dispersed more than 300 civilians who wanted to pass [out of eastern Ghouta] through the humanitarian corridor in the north-eastern outskirts of the city of Douma.
-The fact that terrorist factions that are responsible for the most death and destruction are not part of the ceasefire. It doesn’t apply to Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and associated terrorist groups. The war against them will continue. In east-Ghouta al-Qaeda (HTS) is allied with Failaq al-Rahman.
-Dr. Jaafari had stated that the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France must stop devising strategic plans aimed at dividing his country. Syria has the right to defend itself according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
-What needs to happen is all states need to sever ties with terrorist factions, and that includes Kurdish militias, the United States needs to close down its illegal military bases, all US troops need to leave and Syria needs to continue its counter-terrorism mission along with its allies and liberate every inch of Syria. Syrians deserve to live in peace and free of terror. Turkey needs to stop its Olive Branch Operation as well.
-The propaganda campaign about east-Ghouta is certainly not over humanitarian concern or over adherence to international rules of law. It is to hinder the progress being made by Syrian forces.