Can the ceasefire in northern Syria achieve anything?

US diplomats have negotiated a five-day ceasefire in northern Syria with the Turkish government. Under the agreement the Kurdish militia YPG is to leave the security zone Turkey is seeking to establish and Turkey is to end its offensive in the region. Not only because Turks and Kurds accuse each other of violating the ceasefire, some commentators remain skeptical of the agreement.

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T24 (TR) /

Certainly not a long-term solution

T24 criticises that the agreement is full of imponderables:

“Under the agreement, the weapons provided by the US will be collected once more. The picture is as follows: America tells the YPG to 'attack' and it attacks with the weapons America has provided. America says 'pull back' and collect the weapons again, and the YPG pulls back. But for how long and in exchange for what? That we don't know. The operation is ending now but what is being done to find a long-term solution to the problem? Or will the ceasefire agreement be lifted in a few months' time, only for Turkey to launch yet another operation? All this we simply don't know.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

An agreement without a future

Phileleftheros also concludes that the deal reached in Ankara is too vague:

“The agreement doesn't solve the problem. It buys a little time for diplomacy, and that's a good thing. But this time could also be used for realigning troops on the battlefield. And that's a very bad thing. ... It's clear that nothing ends with this ceasefire. There will probably be developments on the ground before the deadline expires. At the same time, we should wait for the results of the meeting between Putin and Erdoğan [on Tuesday], which will take place immediately after the ceasefire ends. It's obvious that the Russians play a key role in Syria, perhaps the most important role.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Russia must not seek to be solver of all problems

Moscow must wield its new position of power in the Middle East responsibly, Dmitri Trenin, director of the think tank Carnegie Moscow Centre comments in the Financial Times:

“The departing Americans are not only leaving the Russians as the only non-regional power in Syria but also handing them a number of problems that Moscow will have to tackle from now on. ... To continue its successful run, Russia must stay open to all partners and perfect its skills as a middleman. It also needs to be aware of its financial and economic limitations. Finally, Russia should never seek to step into America's shoes as the solver of the world's problems. Moscow is learning that the reward for success is a whole new set of problems.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Europe failing to recognise the danger

Europe is underestimating the scope of the current conflict, La Stampa editor-in-chief Maurizio Molinari warns:

“It is not difficult to conclude that the most likely scenario in the short term will be an increase in tensions between the great rivals of Islam - the Iranian Shiites and the Saudi Sunnis. A single spark would be enough to ignite an open war. It is in Europe's interest to avoid such an escalation because we would pay a very high price - in terms of security, migration and trade. Yet our leaders seem to be divided, distracted and myopic when it comes to considering the Mediterranean as the most imperative protective border.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Damage control for Trump

Pence had to rescue the situation for Trump, US correspondent Federico Rampini in La Repubblica believes:

“Trump's anti-diplomacy has been under attack for a week now. Not just the rest of the world but also the entire American establishment, including most of the Republicans, have taken aim at him. The House of Representatives in Washington condemned his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria - which in effect gave the green light for Erdoğan's invasion. And even the Senate, in which the Republicans have a majority, threatened to do so too. That's why Trump had to improvise with the diplomatic expedition of his deputy, Pence, and his secretary of state, Pompeo, who last night, at the end of a long conversation with Erdoğan, performed a 'miracle'.”

Berlingske (DK) /

The US will remain tainted

The ceasefire won't be enough to iron out the problems caused by Trump's diplomatic faux pas, Berlingske fears:

“The responsibility for a bloodbath and the betrayal of a close ally will continue to taint his presidency in many people's eyes. The ceasefire hasn't silenced his fellow party members or the Western allies' criticism that Trump left the Kurds in northern Syria who had helped the US to fight the IS in the lurch with his order to bring the American troops home. This could have serious consequences for the US in the future, as the US may have difficulties finding allies if the latter fear they'll suddenly be left standing alone on the battlefield.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Was a war necessary for this?

The invasion has produced a paradoxical result for the Turkish president, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Erdoğan once led the alliance against the dictator Bashar al-Assad. ... Now the Turkish invasion has enabled Assad's army to take back the section of Syria that Damascus had left to the Kurds. So the Syrian dictator is the biggest winner of the Turkish offensive. Trump had also threatened with sanctions, and that had the desired effect. Pence has now praised Erdoğan and the good relationship between the US and Turkey. Was a war really necessary to achieve that?”

Karar (TR) /

Middle East too unpredicatable to make plans

No one can make long-term plans in Syria or in the Middle East as a whole, columnist Ahmet Taşgetiren concludes in Karar:

“When and how will problems such as the return of refugees to their homeland, the elimination of the YPG and the fate of the Syrian army be solved? ... The equations, and consequently the results, are constantly shifting. One day a certain person is very powerful, the next he is limited by the balance of power between the global centres. Think back to the resentment against the Assad government in 2011. ... Who could have foreseen back then that Assad would remain in power for so long? ... But that's the way the world is. That's the Middle East.”