Isaac Lara, JD/MPA Candidate at Columbia Law and Harvard Kennedy School
Thanks in advance for taking our questions, Mohamed. How do you believe Russia's growing role in the Syrian conflict will impact ceasefire talks? Is Russian intervention perceived on the ground as a blessing or a curse?
It's difficult to find proper, politically correct words to speak about military activities with all the subsequent casualties and human suffering. This is why in politics I usually prefer to refrain from using normative descriptions or value judgement. It's a fact that Russian military operations in Syria have introduced an absolutely different dynamic to the conflict. This dynamic provided an opportunity and created a momentum that led us to where we are right now. Vienna meetings, Security Council Resolution and efforts to launch peace negotiations only took shape after those operations.
The UNSCR 2254 broadly has two objectives: intra-syrian talks and a ceasefire. The Syrian Government had a certain interpretation of ceasefires, which was based upon their experience with what is generally called "local agreements", as the ones in Al-Wa'er or around Damascus. This interpretation is not correct. Moscow, from its part, understands what is needed for a ceasefire, and officially and publicly endorses this notion, but they have their own ideas about which areas to be covered and which groups would continue to be legitimate targets even after a ceasefire is established. Perhaps we'll have to wait and see how this will be negotiated when the parties actually sit together and talk.
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