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Op-Ed: Syrian government announces Eid ceasefire

By Raluca Besliu     Oct 25, 2012 in Politics
The Syrian government has announced its decision to accept Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League peace envoy, ceasefire proposal during the Eid period, which starts on Friday and will last for four days.
The Security Council fully supports the ceasefire and urged yesterday all regional and international actors to use their influence to realize its implementation. Thus far, it is estimated that over 35,000 people have been killed since the Syrian government-rebel fighting, which began in March 2011.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mentioned Thursday that, if the ceasefire were approved, it would use it as an opportunity to provide aid to thousands of Syrian families in previously inaccessible areas.
According to Mr. Brahimi, the ceasefire is a particularly important event, because it allows “a political process to develop."He further emphasized that he intends to use the truce as an opportunity to start discussing the possibility of a long-term, more sustainable ceasefire.
While the ceasefire is a rather surprising, but relieving event coming from a country where fighting had in fact recently intensified and while Mr. Brahimi’s plan is certainly laudable, there are many skeptics regarding the ceasefire’s utility. As The Guardian points out, the ceasefire will only last for a short period of time, during which the government and the rebels will most likely strive to strengthen their combative forces, consolidate their weapon supply and improve their military strategy. The ceasefire then falls through, the two sides blame each other and return to war as usual.
This was indeed the case of the ceasefire brokered in April 2012 by Mr. Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, which only lasted for few days before breaking down.
In response to the current truce, there have already been rebel groups, such as the al-Nusra Front, that have emphasized they would not observe it, but instead continue the anti-governmental fighting. The main armed rebel group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), although stressing that it would reciprocate the government’s decision to hold a ceasefire, nevertheless pointed out that it would be impossible for the government itself to accomplish its promise, as it would be impossible to control the actions of its entire armed forces.
Given Mr. Brahimi’s previous important role in mediating the major conflicts occurring in the Muslim world, including the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war, the 2001 Afghan war and the American occupation of Iraq, there is hope that his intervention in Syria might bring the Syrian conflict to an end.
However, in ending the conflict, one of his main focuses should be outside actors, particularly those in the UN Security Council, which has, thus far, shown itself unable to take a firm decision in the Syrian case. Russia refuses to put any pressures on the Syrian government, paralyzing the action of the other Security Council members. The United States (U.S.), in particular, which sent its military forces to intervene in Libya in 2011, in the case of Syria, has been expressing its commitment to regime chance without any more practical intervention. Meanwhile, the regional actors are either meddling or just reacting, according to the Guardian.
As the situation Syria could reach genocidal proportions, the need for a solution has never been greater. If Mr. Brahimi manages to adequately engage in negotiations national, regional and international actors, there might perhaps be some hope left for the Syrian people.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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