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Q. Recent developments in Peace in Syria: Comment on new ceasefire agreement between Syrian government and rebel groups.
Dec 31, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently the Syrian Government and opposition rebel groups have reached a cease fire agreement with the mediation of Turkey, Russia and Iran. The recent agreement between government and rebels is considered as a turning point in the war torn country Syria. 

How it is different from previous agreement?

  • This agreement is different from previous two failed cease fire agreements, because negotiated between USA and Russia.
  • Where new recent agreement is sponsored by countries (Turkey, Russia and Iran) directly involved in the conflict. 

Analysis-

  • The positive reaction from both the Syrian regime and rebel commanders to the announcement of the ceasefire suggests that the warring parties are willing to give diplomacy a chance. 
  • For the Syrian government, this is an opportunity to announce it is ready for a peaceful settlement. A prolonged conflict will exhaust the regime forces further and multiply the humanitarian costs.
  • On the other side, after the victory in Aleppo, the regime could now negotiate with the rebels from a position of strength. For the rebels, the momentum is gone. Their support is limited to certain parts such as Idlib, Daraa and the outskirts of Damascus. 
  • In this background the recent ceasefire agreement between government and rebels have brought hope of peace in war hit Syria.

Role of Russia and Turkey-

  • There is a convergence of interests for Turkey and Russia in finding a peaceful solution. 
  • Having seen the USA’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia doesn’t want to get stuck in Syria. By promoting a negotiated deal, it could retain its core interests in Syria while at the same time projecting itself as a power broker in West Asia. 
  • Turkey wants to limit the spill over effects of the war on its soil and stop Kurdish rebels from capitalising on the chaos in Syria. This explains why Turkey and Russia have come together now despite their bitter relations last year.  

Apprehensions-

  • It is still not clear which rebel groups have agreed to the ceasefire. Turkey supports only some of the rebel groups, while several other groups get support from Arab countries.
  • There are jihadist elements as well in the Opposition and that could play the spoiler by carrying out attacks on government positions. 
  • Similarly the Kurdish question remains unaddressed. If Kurds are invited for talks, Turkey might withdraw its support for the peace process.

Conclusion-

Syria is facing civil war since 2011 and currently rebels have lost most parts of the city. Government regained control on most of the country, in this background the recent cease fire agreement is welcome move. Though there are apprehensions, but the move has raised the hope of peace in war hit Syria.  


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