Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Fiction of Posturing Purposefully

"If the Assad regime does not live up to its responsibilities and if the Iranians and the Russians do not hold Assad to the promises that they have made...then the international community obviously is not going to sit there like fools and watch this. There will be an increase of activity to put greater pressure on them."
"There is a possibility there will be additional ground troops."
U.S.  Secretary of State, John Kerry
 
"The Russians said they will continue bombing the terrorists. They are taking a political risk because they are accepting a negotiation in which they are committing to a cessation of hostilities."
"If in a week there is no change because of their bombing, then they will bear the responsibility."
Senior French diplomat
Yes, they will, and it obviously will not pain them. They have bought the time they wanted, and in the process staged a little event they can point to as an expression of their sincerity. They really, really wanted a cease-fire, but alas, events occurred to curtail that ambition, and what's a strike force to do other than simply to carry on?

The agreement, tentative and oblique, wobbly from start to finish, with neither side reaching consensus, was doomed to failure in any event. It was anticipated that Syrian President Bashar al Assad would be disinterested in anything resembling a ceasefire at a time when he is in the ascendancy, so the calling of a press conference and the solemn declarations that everyone is interested in peace could be made.

And then return to the war zone and continue the bombing. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear that Russian planes will continue bombing Islamic State, as though ISIL had been their target all along, which it clearly has never been. It is the Syrian Sunni rebels that, like Assad, Vladimir Putin refers to as "terrorists", and it is those rebel forces that Russian airstrikes concentrated on.

Foreign Minister Lavrov chose March 1 as the ceasefire date, while John Kerry insisted that a week hence would be more suitable in an effort to preserve lives and deter more Syrians from becoming refugees. It's a little cat-and-mouse game they play as a diplomatic ploy to appear as though they are concerned over the ongoing collateral damage in the form of peoples' lives.

A woman makes her way through the rubble of damaged buildings after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held town of Dael, in Deraa Governorate, Syria February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
This little scenario of diplomacy at play and humanitarian principles looming large on the consciences of the principals has a familiar ring to it. It is a tactic that seems to work; agreeing to a break in hostilities, all the while continuing battlefield actions for the purpose of gaining greater traction on the ground, just as was done in eastern Ukraine, and there the stealth war is ongoing with no break in sight.

Russia, Syria and Iran contend that other groups gaining support from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states should not be recognized as part of the ceasefire action. Which would effectively rule out sparing any groups whatever that have mounted opposition to the regime, to be exempted from ongoing bombing raids; so much for a ceasefire and bargaining in 'good faith'. 

As before the agreement began to take its tenuous, readily-disposable state of action, the only group that will be exempt from bombing will be the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL, that incorrigibly murderous, atrocity-given group of fanatics spoken of with loathing, but underhandedly supported by Iraq and Russia through revenues coming in from black market oil and gas sales of their captured fields, will remain protected. 

Russian Pantsyr-S1 air defense weapon system, foreground, and the S-400 long-range air defense missile systems in Syria
Russia's S-400 air defence system in Syria  -- Vadim Savitsky, Russian Air Defence Press Service via AP

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