Syria: 'peace deal' signals escalation... of course
We've repeatedly pointed out the sinister side of Great Power cooperation in Syria: previous ceasefires and "peace deals" have only meant an escalation of the conflict—most recently, the siege of Aleppo and other regime gains. So the utmost cynicism is called for in viewing the pact announced Sept. 10 between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. Another fictional "ceasefire" is to take effect in two days, dependent on compliance by Bashar Assad's Russian-backed forces and "US-supported" rebel groups (although we question how "US-supported" they really are). If the truce holds for a week, the US and Russia will actually begin coordinating on air-strikes. "We believe the plan as it is set forth—if implemented, if followed—has the ability to provide a turning point, a moment of change," Kerry said, according to AP. But a "turning point" toward what?
Ostensibly, those rebel forces that agree to break ranks with Fatah al-Sham (formerly the Nusra Front) will be free from bombardment, allowing coordinated air-strikes against ISIS and Nusra. But this assumes first that Russia will be able to rein in Assad, and secondly that Moscow and Damascus will not continue their aerial terror through the propaganda trick of simply conflating all rebel forces with ISIS.
Certainly, there has been no slowing of the aerial terror despite the supposed peace deal. Just hours after the deal was announced, Russian and Assad regime warplanes carried out air-strikes that killed more than 100 people in Aleppo and Idlib governorates. The worst strikes were in Idlib city, where they hit a market, killing 55 civilians. (Al Jazeera)
It also appears that that Turkey is being given a free hand to establish its long-sought "buffer zone" in northern Syria—usurping the Kurdish autonomous region there. Until now, the US has been planning to cooperate with Kurdish forces for the offensive on Raqqa, the ISIS capital. According to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, this has now changed. According to Hurriyet, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists that Ankara and Washington are now discussing joint military action on Raqqa. He made clear that Turkey is in Syria for the long haul: "From now on, we have to show that we exist in the region. We do not have an option to step back at this point." In the same breath, he said Ankara will fight ISIS and the Kurdish YPG militia—both decried as equally "terrorist," despite the fact that the secular and leftist YPG has been waging a heroic resistance struggle against ISIS for over two years now. Isn't it funny how supposed rivals Russia and Turkey both have a propaganda interest in conflating anti-ISIS forces with ISIS.
US imperialism's practically inevitable betrayal of the Rojava Kurds has almost certainly arrived. We'll be lucky if the Arab rebel forces do any better. A "peace" deal among the imperial powers can only portend a carve-up of Syria among the most reactionary forces. Or, if they can actually manage to put the country back together again, a domesticated regime, built on the remnants of Assad's genocide state.
How free a hand Russia will be given by Washington to attack rebel territory in the name of "peace" will indicate how deep the US tilt to Assad really goes. We fear the worst.