Will the war in Syria soon be over?

The ceasefire in Syria negotiated by Russia, Turkey and Iran is fragile. Rebel groups are accusing the Syrian government of violating the truce. A permanent laying down of weapons is not on the cards, many commentators believe. Others think the war will soon be over, as the rebels no longer have any allies.

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Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Surrender or death only options for the rebels

Assad is poised to emerge as victor of the war in Syria because the opposition no longer has any allies, military historian Gwynne Dyer writes in an analysis for Hürriyet Daily News:

“Assad has won the war above all thanks to Russian and Iranian intervention, and the Syrian rebels are now doomed. It makes no sense for them to go on fighting, because all their supporters are turning away from them. Turkey is now cooperating with Russia, in three weeks' time Donald Trump will become US president and will cooperate with Moscow, and Saudi Arabia is hopelessly overburdened with its pointless war in Yemen. Even little Qatar, once one of the chief sponsors of the Syrian rebellion, has now lost interest - it recently signed an 11.5 billion deal for a 19.5 percent share in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer. The rebels find themselves entirely on their own and their only options are either to surrender or to die in the trenches.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

The long path to peace

Russia, Turkey and Iran will have to redouble their efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire, La Libre Belgique contends:

“The ceasefire that came into force across Syria's entire territory a week ago threatens to collapse. In addition to the sporadic fighting that has been reported since last Friday there have been skirmishes in the area around Damascus and a car bomb attack in Jableh - at the heart of Assad's historical stronghold. These incidents serve to remind us that the path to a complete and permanent stop to the fighting will be long and difficult. One certainly can't accuse Russia, Turkey and Iran of lacking stamina. … Either as regards their defence of the Syrian state or its destabilisation. However, their alliance, which is striving to restore peace in the Middle East, still has a lot of persuading to do.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Moscow must talk with the rebels

It is imperative that Moscow seek dialogue with the rebels, taz concludes:

“The fighting in the Wadi Barada area is jeopardising the whole ceasefire. The regime and its Iranian supporters seem willing to take this risk to tip the balance of power around Damascus in their favour. The question is how Russia and Turkey, the real guarantors for this deal, will react. … Moscow has adopted the Assad regime's premise that all opponents are terrorists. Now Russia is under obligation to act as guarantor for the truce deal with seven moderate rebel groups designated by the Russian defence ministry itself. And Russia knows that in the end the divides in Syria can't be resolved militarily but only politically, and that this will require dialogue partners. But it can't discredit those partners as 'terrorists' at the same time.”

Vilniaus diena (LT) /

Good prospects for the Kremlin

If the ceasefire holds, this would be a major success for Russia, the Portal Diena notes:

“Russia has managed to keep its ally Assad in power, but this fact is less important than another aspect. By intervening in the conflict in Syria Moscow has shown that it will not allow a repetition of the shameful scenario in Libya. Its behaviour in Syria, like the annexation of the Crimea, has strengthened Russia’s internal stability and hence the government, as evidenced by the Duma elections and the victory of the pro-Kremlin forces.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Executioners dictate their rules

The Syrian conflict has shown once again how powerless the UN is, writes Dagens Nyheter:

“For the past five years Russia (and China) have blocked the views of the so-called world community with their veto. President Putin sold weapons to the bloody regime of Assad and eventually took his side in the civil war. In the past half year, the Russians have bombed Aleppo to smithereens. If the blood bath really is interrupted, that will be a relief for the civilian population, but Assad and Putin will go on shooting if it suits them. The UN resolution has been written by Russia and the rules of the ceasefire by the executioners themselves. Under those rules the opponents of the regime remain 'terrorists' and hence legitimate prey.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Ceasefire has a tactical function

Vladimir Putin is pursuing his usual strategy with the ceasefire, explains the geographer Fabrice Balanche in Le Figaro:

“Like all the ones that preceded it, this ceasefire exhibits an obviously tactical dimension. Following a major offensive Russia unilaterally declares a ceasefire, thus allowing the armed ground troops to secure the territory they have taken so as to protect themselves from a counter-offensive by the rebels. Peace on the western front can thus be used to regain territory from Islamic State in the east of the country, as was done with Palmyra last March. Vladimir Putin then announces the withdrawal of 'the majority of his troops', which in Russian terms means simply rotating troops and materials in order to prepare the next major offensive.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Fight against IS militia will continue

The IS terrorist militia continues to be strong and a ceasefire in Syria will not do anything to change that, Dnevnik points out:

“The ceasefire in large parts of Syria and a possible new round of negotiations between the rebel groups, the Syrian government and the major powers in Astana by no means guarantee that the terrorist attacks by the caliphate in Europe and Turkey will stop. In recent years the terrorist organisation with the most effective propaganda machine has evolved in trouble spots in Syria where more than thirty countries are fighting directly or indirectly. With its radicalised fighters on the battlefield itself and in the West it has a far greater reach than al-Qaeda ever had. We can expect the fight against 'Islamic state' to go on longer than the Syrian civil war.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

Recognise Russia's achievements in Syria

For too long now the West has failed to recognise that Russia could become a force for peace in Syria, the political scientist and historian Götz Aly writes in the Berliner Zeitung:

“In the end it may turn out that the intervention of Russian troops has facilitated a peace accord acceptable to most Syrians. Even last autumn many German media were claiming that the capture of eastern Aleppo would bring hundreds of thousands more refugees to Europe. But nothing of the sort happened. Angela Merkel recently accused Russia of war crimes in Syria. But she turned a blind eye to the fact that the ‘rebels’ who receive her support in the form of propaganda have been committing war crimes for a long time now. One can criticise her on moral grounds and say she is applying double standards. I see an even more serious problem: In the case of Syria our leading politicians (and many journalists) are becoming blind to history and losing touch with reality.”