putin poster syria

Demonstrators hold up a poster of Putin and Assad in Damascus
This last Saturday, I shared my thoughts on on SOTT Radio Network's Truth Perspective show regarding the cessation of hostilities in Syria, which went into effect that same day. In a nutshell, I think it's a pretty smart idea, but not because I think it will be 'successful' - I don't. Rather, I think it will succeed because it offers a win-win scenario for Syria and Russia, even in the event of its failure.

Sure, the U.S. and their Wahhabist allies will invent stories about Russian and Syrian violations, but they'll be just as transparent as all the previous lies (e.g. indiscriminate bombings of hospitals and civilians). The fact is, as the Russian MOD said on Saturday, Russia is "in full control" of the situation in Syria. It will be a fairly simple matter to identify any ceasefire violations, and provide proof (something the U.S. apparently hasn't heard of). The U.S. may be planning 'Plan B from Outer Space', but they're dreaming - Russia and Syria won't even consider it, totally ruling out the scenario of breaking Syria apart.

The U.S. has now agreed to share information about the groups they support, and their locations - if those groups sign up to the ceasefire, that is. Until now the U.S. has refused to divulge information about their movements, despite Russia repeatedly asking and stating their willingness to avoid making them targets.

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Axis of Sanity
Let's assume most or all of them sign on; now these groups are bound by the document. Either they comply with the ceasefire (which is a win for Syria: less fighting, and thus greater opportunity to hold these 'rebels' to their word once the political process establishes who will rightfully lead the areas currently under the rebels' control), or they don't.

The latter scenario is also a win: it exposes their unwillingness to seek a peaceful political solution. It exposes them for what they really are: illegitimate armed groups who use war to force 'regime change'. And Syria and Russia will then be justified in attacking those who have demonstrated unwillingness to stop fighting. (Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stated as much).

And so I think the 'cessation of hostilities' will be successful: a relatively small number of 'rebels' will lay down their arms and comply. The rest, under U.S. covert direction, will break the ceasefire, and things will continue the way they have been, with airstrikes and advances by the Syrian Army. The Western media will probably portray this as a failure, but this will prove Russia's point: Russia has not been bombing 'moderate rebels interested in a political transition', because the vast majority of anti-Assad forces in Syria are illegal terrorist groups sponsored by the US, UK, France, Israel and their Middle East head-chopping Gulf royal friends.

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© Bassam Khabieh / Reuters
The civilized world already knows this and numerous American public officials have already publicly said it. Soon it will be obvious. (See: It's official U.S. policy to protect al-Qaeda in Syria: Will the ceasefire expose it?)

Perhaps it won't go that way though. Perhaps the U.S. will stage false-flag attacks that will saddle Russia or Syria with the blame. They haven't been able to make anything like that stick since Russia began its air campaign, and they haven't been able to bait Russia into harsh reprisals by shooting down its planes, but I suppose it's possible.

For now, the ceasefire is four days old, and at this early point it has gone as expected. The head of the Russian monitoring center for the ceasefire, Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko, had this to say: "In general, the cessation of hostilities in Syria is being obeyed." U.S. strategic command concurred, as did the German foreign office:
"As seen in numerous reports it appears as though the cessation of hostilities is largely holding. We applaud the cessation of hostilities between all parties which had been engaged in military or para-military hostilities in Syria," Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve's press service told RIA Novosti.
"One can say that the ceasefire regime is mostly holding. Generally speaking, hostilities have been significantly limited, although according to news agencies and our officials, including in Geneva, all sides have complained of ceasefire violations," [German] deputy spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli said.
This is natural given the relatively few groups who have signed on and the possibility that many of them are genuine. It's pretty common for rebel groups to surrender to the Syrian authorities and accept amnesty - they know it's futile to keep on fighting with Russian jets overhead. (Update: 250 militants turn themselves in in Dara'a)

For their part, the Russians are being typically transparent, announcing the start of a daily bulletin tracking the progress of the ceasefire. The U.S., in contrast, refuses to even name the groups who have contacted them (citing 'security reasons'). Russia has received pledges from 17 groups, while the Americans apparently filed a list of 69 groups who will comply. On the first day of the ceasefire, Russia detected 9 violations committed by the rebels (all of which were reported to the American center in Jordan), and, predictably, Turkey:
Six of the nine violations were noted because the fire came from the regions of suburban Damascus under the control of "moderate" rebel groups listed as observing the ceasefire by the American side, the report said.

In the Raqqa province, a group of some 100 fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey. The group later joined forces with other militants and attacked the Kurdish town of Tell Abyad.

The 250-strong group was supported by artillery fire from the Turkish territory, a fact that Russia said the US should explain. The Kurdish YPG militia fended off the attack, the report said.

In Latakia province, fighters of the Al Nusra Front terrorist group, which is not included into the ceasefire deal, fired mortar shells at a local militia force, which returned fire.

The terrorist positions were in an area under control of a "moderate" rebel group, the monitors said. Multiple casualties were reported in the clash.

A suicide attacker detonated his car bomb on a road about 1km east from Hama city. The car came from an area controlled by "moderate" rebels, the report noted.
...
The rebel High Negotiating Committee (HNC)'s spokesman Salim al-Muslat claimed that Russia and Hezbollah violated the ceasefire at least 15 times, but didn't provide any details. Russia said it is no longer conducting airstrikes in areas where the hostilities were put on hold.
Baseless accusations of Russian violations? Check. Reports of the U.S.'s 'moderate rebels' violating their word? Check. Hostile actions by parties refusing the ceasefire (i.e. Turkey and 'The Terrorist Groups Formerly Known as Al-Qaeda')? Check.

As can be seen from the above, Turkey has been true to form, too. The Russians responded to the Turkish incursion/shelling (confirmed by the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces - Turkish military sources deny their own involvement) as follows:
"The Russian center appealed to the US reconciliation center in Amman for explanations about the shelling of Syrian territory from the Turkish side, a member of the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition."
Ouch. Here's footage of the aftermath:


Take a look at where Tell Abyad is, where the Kurds fought off the ISIS attack:

Syria Kurds map

Tell Abyad (yellow icon) is nowhere near ISIS' access to Turkey
Where else could they have come from but Turkey? The Kurds control all the surrounding areas west, south and east of the border.

As for the second day, the Russian Ministry of Defense reports 7 violations. They also had some pointed comments about the predictable accusations made against them, accusing Moscow and Damascus of their own violations: "We investigate such reports. I have to tell you that as of today, there is no truth to these reports ... We believe that instead of using unsuitable means to try and blame Russia for the fragility of the current ceasefire, the US-led anti-IS coalition should urge some of its subordinates to be more careful at this time." Even the Syrian opposition spoke out. Qadri Jamil of the Syrian Popular Front for Change and Liberation said: The violations we have seen were carried out by regional states. Many regional countries don't like the ceasefire agreement. They don't want it to be implemented."

Turkish PM Davutoglu went a little bit more insane than usual last week, saying:
If there's today a real moderate Syrian opposition, it's because of the Turkish support. If today the [Assad] regime isn't able to control all the territories [it's] because of Turkish and some other countries' support.
"Moderate". Sure.
Ankara "will be doing everything for Syrian brothers and sisters - without asking any assistance from anywhere - for refugees as well as for ... all Syrians, those, who are raising their voice against this aggression by the regime, by terrorists like YPG (Kurdish People's Protection Units), Daesh (Islamic State, IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and foreign forces, who are invading Syria today, like Russia and Iran."
What, no mention of al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria)? Oh, that's right, while the Turkish government supports Daesh but denies it, they have no qualms about sending in support to the al-Qaeda-linked 'Free Syrian Army' in Latakia and Aleppo provinces. Then there's this gem from Erdogan: "They say [in the West] that PYD and YPG are supported because they are fighting against DAESH. That is a big lie. Al-Nusra is also fighting against Daesh. Why do you say they are bad?" Not to mention the reports that Turkey supports al-Nusra directly.
Davutoglu declared that the aim of the Russian air operation in Syria is "ethnic cleansing in and around Aleppo."
You say that Russia controls the sky, but Turkey controls... Turkey has the hearts of Syrian people. The Syrian people are with us. And nobody can defeat a people.
This guy is delusional. Turkey may have their hearts, but they've been cut out of the body and are currently being eaten raw by Turkey's 'Free Syrian Army' terrorist nutjobs.
Davutoglu said that Turkey [will] "never regret" the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in November of 2015, as the country was simply defending its airspace.
He's courteous too!

As for the ceasefire, which Turkey refused to back, and has already violated, Davutoglu was typically schizophrenic on this matter too:
Of course, we want to have ceasefire and peace in Syria. There's no other country more affected by this crisis like Turkey. But if you ask how much I'm optimistic. We have to be realistic. We're not very optimistic because until now all these diplomatic negotiations are being misused by the regime, by Russia, by Iran and pro-Iranian elements on the ground to kill more people. I have to be very frank. Talking on one side to gain time, and attacking on Syrian civilians on the other side, this initiative can't be successful.
The Turkish PM really should open up a movie theater; he does so much projecting!

In short, expect more of the same. With any hope, more people, including mainstream media sources, will catch on, like Stephen Kinzer at the Boston Globe recently did.