MESOP NEWS TOP OF THE AGENDA : Iran, Russia, Turkey Really Push for Syrian De-Escalation ? / READ SOURCES: WAPO / NYT / SYRIA DEEPLY / MIDDLE EAS EYE

Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter

Iran, Russia, and Turkey signed an agreement on Thursday to set up “de-escalation” zones in Syria. Neither the Syrian government nor opposition representatives signed the agreement (Al Jazeera), which the three foreign powers said will come into effect Saturday (WaPo). Senior U.S. and Jordanian representatives also attended the talks (UN News). The agreement calls for zones through which unarmed civilians could move freely; they would be monitored at checkpoints overseen by the three guarantors, among other parties. Opposition representatives said the plan leaves too many loopholes (NYT) that would allow the government to continue bombing civilian areas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, reported that the government increased air strikes in proposed de-escalation zones after their locations were revealed earlier in the week.


“It was unclear how the deal differed from several previous failed cease-fires in which the Syrian air force continued to bomb rebel-held areas. The agreement said ‘the parties agreed to take all necessary measures to continue the fight’ against designated terrorist groups ‘within and outside’ the zones,” Louisa Loveluck and Karen DeYoung write for the Washington Post.

“The very nature of the question regarding Russia’s objectives in Syria makes an assumption that Russia has a discrete goal in the outcome of the Syrian conflict. My assumption is actually that Russia is after something much more amorphous, and the fundamental mistake of U.S. and Western negotiators and policymakers is to assume that the Kremlin can be convinced to give up on Assad through a Western offer or concession,” Raisa Scheynberg said in an interview with Syria Deeply.

“Syrians never wanted to replace the regime with another, exchanging one set of leaders with a custom-made alliance supposed to tick everyone’s boxes; the whole point of their struggle, as idealistic as it may have once been, was for transition to an equitable, participative system—not regime change,” Rime Allaf writes for Middle East Eye.