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Peace gets a chance

Peace gets a chance
Highlights

The world holds its breath as the ceasefire, brokered by Russia and the US, the key allies of pro-and anti-Bashar Al Assad forces respectively, has taken effect fromMonday. No major violation, yet. Though initially a 48-hour truce, it will be extended if Syrians on both sides of the war silence their guns. It is a result of painstaking talks between Russia and the US towards the fag-end of Barack

The world holds its breath as the ceasefire, brokered by Russia and the US, the key allies of pro-and anti-Bashar Al Assad forces respectively, has taken effect fromMonday. No major violation, yet. Though initially a 48-hour truce, it will be extended if Syrians on both sides of the war silence their guns. It is a result of painstaking talks between Russia and the US towards the fag-end of Barack Obama’s presidential term.

Obama gets last chance to leave a legacy of peace and end the carnage in a tormented nation. The ceasefire earlier enforced by the two world powers in February came a cropper as both had failed to deliver on their end of the bargain.

A lasting ceasefire has been long overdue in view of bloodshed and horrors on the ground. What began essentially as a civil war between Assad and his own people six years ago blew up into a major geopolitical conflagration with external powers actively seeking to draw the country over to their side.

Several rounds of talks mainly between the US allies and Syrian government broke down due to intransigence on either part. As a result, war raged on and over a quarter of a million perished in last six years.

Though the immediate goal of latest cessation of hostilities is to allow humanitarian aid, it indicates urgency on the part of Russia and the US to jointly strive to obliterate the Islamic State which is fast spreading its tentacles with visceral hatred to plunge world into commotion and disorder.

Should Russians and Americans agree on the way forward, their coalition will bear down on the ISIS and Al Nusra, a former Al Qaeda wing. Russia’s direct involvement since September 2015 in helping Assad fight the ISIS seemed to have turned the tables on the US. Iran, a Shia nation, is also backing Assad.

The US, which hitherto scoffed at any plan to tolerate Assad in governance, has yielded as ISIS is a much bigger enemy. This, despite its strong ally Saudi Arabia being bitterly opposed to the Alawite sect of the Shia regime in Syria.

How long the ceasefire will be in effect will be a litmus test of major powers’ resolve to bring about peace in the region. Turkey’s Erdogan, who has long been accused of tacitly dealing in arms and oil with the ISIS, is also expected to mend ways as he patched up with the Russians and is in fact peeved with the US over sheltering key persons allegedly behind the recent coup against him. As US

Secretary of State John Kerry said this is the last chance to peace, we cannot agree more with him. A good augury is that though other Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia are yet to comment on the ceasefire, Qatar welcomed it. Saudis, the major regional power,

may also yield as they would not want to let go of any influence in Syria. This ceasefire shall lead to talks between Assad and his rebels, which are likely in October, and it should be left to Syrians themselves to decide his fate.

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