‘US policy of backing terrorist elements in Syria came unstuck’

‘US policy of backing terrorist elements in Syria came unstuck’
How much of an impact does the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey have on the Syrian conflict and a future peace process? What could the sidelining of the US mean for future American foreign policy?

The breakthrough deal of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria which was brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran came into effect at midnight local time on Thursday. It’s widely seen as Syria's best hope for peace in years, and a rare chance to find a reliable solution to the country's long-running crisis.

Russia's Defense Minister said seven key opposition groups have vowed to join the truce - amounting to some 62,000 rebel fighters. Groups that do not abide by the ceasefire will be considered terrorists.

Russia and Turkey have agreed to monitor and assist the process and act as guarantors of the deal, while the US administration, which had previously been considered a key player in any Syrian settlement, is not expected to participate.

The American policy of backing the most extreme terrorist elements has come unstuck, said George Galloway, former UK MP, commenting on the fact that the US has been sidelined from this deal.

“The Russians have been playing chess, and the Americans have been playing checkers - that is the short way of putting it,” he said.

“The American policy of backing the most extreme terrorist elements has come unstuck. Not only were they being defeated on the battlefield by the Syrian Arab Army, which has performed heroics by the way, and its allies – but the Turkish part of the game turned too, because NATO was almost certainly involved in the attempted coup to overthrow Turkish President Erdogan just a few months ago. Turkey has seen what is happening on the battlefield; seen what its own friends were prepared to do to it – stab it in the back and has decided to change course,” he told RT.

“Now the Troika of Iran, Turkey, and Russia working with the regime in Damascus is solving this matter for themselves, and that is what is deeply humiliating to the US. If anyone looks more pitiful today than President Obama, it is Secretary [John] Kerry, who has been completely sidelined and left out of this process, because his government only wanted to throw a spoke in the wheel of progress, rather than facilitate progress. So it is no surprise that the parties who really want a settlement have decided to do it without the US on this occasion,” he said.

‘US spectacularly failed’

The US passed a bill to distribute weapons to the Syrian opposition a few weeks ago despite the fact they could get into the wrong hands.

According to former London mayor Ken Livingstone, amid the Arab uprising the US saw the chance to “overthrow all those regimes that weren’t broadly America’s puppets.”

“They have spectacularly failed. It’s completely undermined the reputation of the America, because of the legacy of what’s happened in Iraq, in Syria, and Afghanistan. It has left terrible instability and the continuing threat of terrorism against the nations all over the world. I hope that America would recognize it made a terrible mistake in funding and arming these groups, and now work with not just Russia, Iran, and Turkey, but to bring in America, China, India – a whole global coalition to eliminate this threat of terrorism,” he told RT.

‘Ceasefire deal may become watershed moment for Syrian crisis’

Dr. Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador to China, former Ambassador to the US

“Of course this deal, if it succeeds and goes through, it would be a watershed moment in the course of the Syrian crisis. We have always believed that the only solution to the crisis in Syria would be a political solution. This deal is offering humanity…the opportunity to stop the bloodshed. So this is a remarkable achievement. We genuinely hope that it will succeed and allowed to be implemented in as much as realistically possible way,” said Dr. Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador to China, former Ambassador to the US.

Joshua Landis, Director of Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma is not optimistic regarding the prospects of the ceasefire holding.

“No, it won’t hold,” he said. “But the importance of this is that Turkey is working with Russia. And Turkey is sending a signal to the rebels that it is going to close the door on the on them, and they are going to have to find a way forward – either negotiating with the regime or fighting to the bitter end, I presume.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.