That was the ceasefire that was:forget it, let it go.
I suppose the US State department can give themselves a pat on the back, after all the ceasefire did come into effect 2200UTC on Friday, and it lasted all of about twelve
minutes hours. The BBC, with typical mindless optimism, are reporting ‘limited violations’. These include the shelling of residential areas in Damascus, on Saturday, although who fired the shells is not clear, and Russian bombing of ‘designated terrorists’ this (Sunday) morning. Oh yes, the Americans bombed IS positions on Saturday–but they are a ‘allowed target’, or ‘designated terrorists’ and so outside the ceasefire agreement. The problem, as I touched on in the last article, is that the Russian interpretation of ‘designated terrorist’, and almost everybody else’s interpretation, differ. Everybody else thinks it’s still OK to bomb IS and the al-Nusra Front, Russia classes anybody who doesn’t support Vlad’s chum Bashar, as a terrorist, ergo…..
OK, so the limited violations of the ceasefire began around 12 hours after it came into effect. Not too bad, considering the complexity of the situation, i.e. the 27 (approximately) separate groups that make up the Opposition. Food aid may well get through to the areas that most need it, and the black marketeers will be able to replenish their stocks–sorry, but that really is what it amounts to, unless you have an armed distribution system on the ground to ensure that the much-needed aid actually reaches the people who need it in order to stay alive, rather than reach the people who need it to sell it at a profit, to those who need it to stay alive. Me, cynical?
Permit me to sum up the situation. The ceasefire is holding, except where it isn’t. It doesn’t actually exist as far as attacks on designated terrorist groups occur. The Americans can bomb IS, and the Russians can bomb IS. The Americans are bombing IS, and the Russians are bombing somebody who they say is a designated terrorist. They can hold that line for maybe 12 hours, then they will ‘clarify’ and say that they are bombing IS as well. A few hours after that, America (or somebody) will claim that Russia isn’t bombing IS but opponents of the Assad regime, who are not designated terrorists. There will then be a bout of name calling, but in the meantime the bombing will continue, until Vlad’s Boys have cleared the way for Bashar’s Boys to seize a bit more territory, so they can declare that they have won. Then, and only then, will there be a chance of a meaningful ceasefire–except that it will come too late for many people.
The map, courtesy of the BBC website, shows how complex the situation is on the ground.