Steps to implement Syrian ceasefire worrying for Daesh controlled Raqqa

Published February 25th, 2016 - 01:30 GMT
Syrian opposition forces have backed Kurdish YPG units in a major offensive in Daesh stronghold of Raqqa. (AFP/File)
Syrian opposition forces have backed Kurdish YPG units in a major offensive in Daesh stronghold of Raqqa. (AFP/File)

Positive International indicators regarding the suggested truce in Syria, which started Friday night, have emerged. A number of world leaders have connected to ensure its success. The most notable gesture so far was the phone call received on Wednesday by the Custodian of the Two Holly Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin as the two parties discussed bilateral relations in addition to efforts towards a ceasefire in Syria.

HRH King Salman confirmed Riyadh's keenness on meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people and its support for the political solution based on Geneva I resolutions. HRH also stressed the necessity that ceasefire efforts include guarantees for the delivery of relief and medical aids to all Syrian regions without any exception.

"The King of Saudi Arabia welcomed the agreements; he reached and expressed his readiness to work jointly with Russia to make them work," the Kremlin said. "The two sides agreed to continue contacts on this matter," the statement added.

According to Russian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oleg Ozerov, President Putin confirmed for the Saudi King Russia's commitment to ceasefire from its part with the implementation of the US-Russian agreement. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the call between the two leaders was very positive; indicating that HRH King Salman welcomed the agreement reached between the parties on a ceasefire in Syria.

On the other hand, Putin received calls from the President of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, who promised to support the US-Russian agreement on ceasefire in Syria and facilitate its implementation.

Because the US-Russian agreement excluded Daesh and al-Nusra Front, families living in Al-Raqqa are in a state of anticipation as they fear paying for this truce since their region is under Daesh control.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama warned raising expectations regarding cessation of hostilities agreement. He told the media, during his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House: "We are very cautious about raising expectations on this. The situation on the ground is difficult."

Obama told reporters that if some progress was made in Syria, it would lead to a political process to end the five-years-old war.

Obama said that if the cease-fire reduces the violence that has been wracking Syria, then it will provide the basis for a longer-term cease-fire. He also said that halting hostilities will allow the US and its partners, including Russia, to focus on Daesh, "something they are neither doing at the moment and nor are focusing on."

After the meeting, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that he expects there to be "some violations" of the ceasefire.

"It will be unclear after a few days or maybe even after a few weeks about whether or not this understanding will stick," Earnest said.

Obama also said the leaders talked about how to help Syrian refugees. Jordan houses about 635,000 Syrians registered by the U.N. refugee agency, out of about 4.7 million Syrians who have fled their homeland since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011. President Obama expressed his country's commitment to make sure that as Jordan continues to be open to helping people in need, they will have a strong partner in the United States and we will make sure that US money is where their mouth is in terms of looking after these refugee populations.

From his part, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he had spoken to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and their teams are going to meet in the next day or so to discuss the planned ceasefire.

"I am not here to vouch that it's absolutely going to work," Kerry said in Washington. "While there had to be a diplomatic solution at some point, the question was whether the time is ripe", he added.

He asked whether Russia and Iran would work "in good faith" to bring about a political transition in Damascus.

Faced with skepticism about the cessation of hostilities plan, Kerry said that things in Syria could get uglier.

"It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer," he said.

Kerry insisted Washington is working on ways to react if diplomacy does not work. "There is a significant discussion taking place now about Plan B if we don't succeed at the table," Kerry said.

By Heba Alkudsi and Fath alRahman Youssef


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