ON December 8, the White House said that the outgoing US President Barack Obama had relaxed the so-called Arms Export Control Act for the Islamist ‘militants’ ‘supporting US Special Forces’ in Syria, saying such leniency would contribute to ‘the national security interests’ of the US.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry commented that it viewed the decision as a ‘hostile act,’ and cautioned that the Obama administration was attempting to complicate the situation in the world before President-elect Donald Trump took over the White House in January.
Moscow had earlier warned that the US decision to ease the arms flow to the ‘militants’ in Syria would pose a threat to the entire Middle East. US weapons could end up in the wrong hands, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the time.
‘Certainly, the worst result of this decision would be those weapons, including MANPADs (man-portable anti-air missiles), ending up in the hands of terrorists, which of course poses a serious threat not only for the region, but for the entire world,’ he said.
The decision came as the liberation last week of Syria’s second city of Aleppo from ISIS and Nusra Front fighters was proceeding and then achieved by the Syrian and Russian militaries.
With the liberation of Aleppo underway, a ceasefire deal was worked out during negotiations between Russia and Turkey, which were respectively representing the Syrian government and the Islamists. The accord enabled evacuations out of the city without the Western-expected ‘massacre of hundreds of thousands’.
Russia then proposed comprehensive talks aimed at the establishment of a countrywide ceasefire across the Arab country. Meanwhile, the United States, which shut itself out of the talks, backtracked, with the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner saying that the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama remains opposed to providing portable air-defence systems, or MANPADS, to anti-Assad groups in Syria.
However, things have moved on. Russia and Turkey have now reportedly reached an agreement, according to the Anadolu Turkish news agency on a proposal for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria from midnight following the two sides brokering a truce that put an end to years of fighting in the northwestern city of Aleppo.
The deal was carved out on Wednesday between Moscow and Ankara, which respectively represented the Syrian government and the militants fighting Damascus, at the negotiations, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported. The agreement envisages the extension of the ceasefire in Syria’s second city of Aleppo to the entirety of the Arab country.
The agreement, which is planned to take effect at midnight, excludes ‘terror’ groups, added the report, without identifying the outfits. Among those factored out of the accord are Daesh (ISIS) and Fateh al-Sham (Al-Nusra).
Russia and Turkey have, accordingly, named themselves as the ‘guarantors’ of the truce process. If the truce survives sabotage, it will form the basis of upcoming political negotiations between Damascus and the hostile parties, the agency added.
The potential talks, which are similarly to be overseen by Moscow and Ankara, are to take place in the Kazakh capital, Astana. However, Moscow said on Wednesday that it could not yet comment on the Anadolu report. Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, ‘I cannot answer that question right now.’
‘I don’t have sufficient information,’ said Peskov, adding, ‘We are constantly in touch with our Turkish colleagues to discuss various details about the possible talks that are planned for Astana.’
‘This is all being done to search for a political resolution for Syria,’ the Russian official said. It is now clear that Obama is leaving the scene in defeat and confusion, with US policy in complete disarray, and with its proxy forces scattered and defeated.
Talks in Astana to end the war and unite Syria behind a government led by President Assad will constitute a huge victory, and a big step forward for the region, whose next step must be the formation of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital!