Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter


State Media: Turkey, Russia Agree on Syria Cease-Fire

Turkish state media reported that Turkey and Russia agreed on terms for a nationwide cease-fire (Anadolu) in Syria, citing an unnamed Turkish official. The report said that all terrorist organizations would be excluded from the deal and the cease-fire, which could go into effect as early as midnight on Wednesday, would involve all areas where the government of Bashar al-Assad is fighting opposition groups (AP). Turkey’s foreign ministry did not immediately confirm (Reuters) the report. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has said the country is “ready to host all sides” in Astana (RFE/RL), where Moscow has said peace talks would take place. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the United States on Tuesday of supporting terrorist groups in Syria, including the self-proclaimed Islamic State, adding that he had “confirmed evidence” (Al Jazeera) of the alleged backing.


“Little in history is inevitable, and the outcome in Syria is the result of what governments, groups, and individuals chose to do—and what they chose not to do. Indeed, not acting in Syria has proved to be as consequential as acting. At no point was this clearer than when the United States did not fulfill its threat to make Assad’s government pay for its use of chemical weapons. That proved to be a missed opportunity not only to alter the momentum of the conflict, but also to underscore the principle that any government that uses weapons of mass destruction will regret it. Enforcement, after all, is essential to the effectiveness of future deterrence,” CFR President Richard N. Haass writes for Project Syndicate.

“We always knew that at the end of this war there’s going to be a negotiation table. The problem is that the negotiations will have very little to do with the true voice of Syrian activist opposition views, these people who came out on the streets in 2011 and demanded two things: freedom and dignity. Those people will not be represented in negotiations. I think many Syrians at this point want to find a way to peace, an end to the violence, the killing, the aerial bombardment and find a way to actually survive. So I don’t think that the original calls of the revolution are what’s going to be negotiated, but instead some kind of existence of the Syrian people in their own country on the conditions the regime sets,” Lina Sergie Attar said an interview with Syria Deeply.

“[T]here is little apparent appetite for a non-aggression arrangement within the fractious pro-opposition camp. And it is hard to imagine Russia—let alone the regime and Iran—choosing to halt their march against rebels now when they enjoy such momentum. Even if the rebels suffers continued territorial losses, that will not spell the end of the regime’s armed opponents. It will leave those wishing to continue the fight with little choice but to shift to a longer-term strategy of asymmetric insurgency—a scenario which plays further to the advantage of salafi-jihadis, and would make it still harder for the rebellion to cobble together a coherent, credible, and practical political leadership,” Noah Bonsey writes for the International Crisis Group.