U.S. Secretary of State is in Geneva today to renegotiate a cessation of hostilities between the Syrian government forces and the foreign supported « rebels » in Syria. But there is something very curious going on with these negotiations. Kerry will neither talk with the Syrian government nor with the Russians. The Russian Foreign Minister is not even expected to come.
No, Kerry is negotiating with the U.S. allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia who support the same « rebels » that are opposed to the Syrian government that the U.S. itself supported all along. He now asks them to separate their proxy forces in Syria from the terrorist organization al-Qaeda/Jabhat al-Nusra.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he hoped to make progress in talks in Geneva over the next two days toward renewing a cessation of hostilities agreement throughout Syria and resuming peace talks to end the fighting. »The hope is we can make some progress, » Kerry said at the start of a meeting with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh shortly after arriving in Geneva.
The Syrian army announced on Friday a « regime of calm », or lull in fighting, which applied to Damascus and some of its outskirts, and parts of northwestern coastal province Latakia. But it excluded Aleppo.
Kerry made clear that a ceasefire was needed throughout Syria and he hoped to be able to reaffirm the cessation of hostilities after talks in Geneva. He is due to meet Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and De Mistura on Monday.
According to military spokesperson of the U.S. alliance against the Islamic State, Colonel Warren, the « rebel » occupied parts of Aleppo city are under control of al-Qaeda:
[I]t’s primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it’s complicated.
Two UN Security Council Resolution calls on all UN members to « eradicate » al-Qaeda/al-Nusra. ALL UNSC members agreed to Resolution 2254 which:
Reiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL […] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities,…
There is simply no basis for Kerry to beg for a ceasefire for « rebel » held areas of Aleppo city when his own military says that these are in the hands of al-Qaeda which the UNSC calls to eradicate. The Russian’s have said that much.
So here is what Kerry is left to do: Beg the U.S. allies to move away their « Free Syrian Army » proxy groups from al-Qaeda so al-Qaeda can be eradicated by the Syrian Army and its allies.
But al-Qaeda is by now an integrated part of those Saudi/Qatar/U.S. paid proxy forces and well accepted by those groups. It gets its weapons and ammunition from the very proxy groups the U.S. now wants to separate from it. Even if the Saudis and Jordanians assert their influence over these groups it is unlikely that the fighters on the ground will follow their directives.
The Russian air force is ready to renew its bombing campaign against all opposition forces in Syria that do not agree to a cessation of hostilities.
No U.S. propaganda campaign can wave away al-Qaeda’s presence in Syria nor the UNSC resolutions the U.S. itself agreed to. Either Kerry manages to pressure Saudi Arabia and Jordan to move their proxies away from al-Qaeda or there will be again an all out Russian campaign to eradicate them. It is unlikely that any of those proxies would survive such a campaign.
Kerry is now left to negotiate with U.S allies against al-Qaeda. He now has to argue from the same perspective as the Syrian and Russian government. This is a mess of his own making. How will he escape from it?