US might be spoiling factor of Syrian truce if it remains off the table
by Ali Ünal
ANKARADec 24, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Dec 24, 2016 12:00 am
Efforts to establish a permanent cease-fire in Syria have gained new momentum since Russia, Turkey and Iran reached an agreement on Dec. 20 in Moscow. According to the adopted statement these three key nations will act as "guarantors" for the future of Syria, however, it is still not certain that a permanent peace can be established by excluding the U.S at the Syrian table.
Even though the U.S. did not accept that they had been "sidelined" for the Syria talks, U.S. officials did eventually admit that the U.S foreign policy in Syria has been unable to effectively produce any results: "We are not excluded, we are not being sidelined," U.S State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Dec. 20. However, two days later Kirby admitted that the U.S has not implemented a successful Syria policy. "Our diplomatic efforts have not been successful in terms of getting us to a political transition where the voice of the Syrian people can be heard and can realize a better, safer, unified Syria," he said on Dec. 22.
Meanwhile Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Dec. 23 that the evacuation of opposition fighters from Aleppo was complete, creating the conditions for a cease-fire deal in Syria "In my view we are very close to achieving an agreement on a full cease-fire across the territory of Syria," Shoigu said. In addition, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Friday he expected new Syria peace talks backed by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran to take place in the middle of January in Kazakhstan.
Commenting on these developments, Dr. Bora Bayraktar of Istanbul Kültür University said even the joint declaration by Turkey, Russia and Iran indicate that the U.S. is left out of the process. "The most important article of this joint declaration between the three countries is Article 5. The article states that Iran, Russia and Turkey are to guide and guarantee the implementation of the agreement that is being negotiated between the Syrian government/regime and the opposition. This indicates that the U.S. is left out of this equation" said Bayraktar. Expressing that the U.S. might try to influence the process in Syria through the Democratic Union Party- (PYD) controlled area of northern Syria, Bayraktar added that the U.S.'s return to the existing equation depends on the political disposition and the policies of its new administration: "These three countries have made it clear with the joint declaration that they are the main political actors which will shape Syria's future. However, in order to see to what extent the U.S. will be active and effective in this issue, first we have to observe the Syrian policies of the Trump administration."
Underscoring that the U.S.'s vested interest in the PYD, which is only active in northern Syria, limited U.S. cooperation with her groups and caused a divergence with Turkey, Can Acun of Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) signified that the U.S.'s exclusion might endanger a permanent resolution in Syria. "The U.S. is still a prominent actor and it would be challenging to enforce a permanent ceasefire which may lead to a permanent political resolution without the U.S. inclusion. The U.S. is seemingly out of the equation in Syria now; however, if they want to they might hamper the process with not-so-constructive action."
According to Acun, Turkey, Iran and Russia will first try to reach a consensus on the outline of a resolution and then the aforementioned three countries will try to include the U.S. in this plan.