The recent Russia-US brokered ceasefire was a hard won gesture which in a perfect world would have far reaching consequences for Syria.
In reality, for the people of Syria who are heroically battling on the front line of a war between civilisation and barbarism, the agreement isn’t worth the secretive paper it’s written on.
A terrorist called Ali al-Omar who leads the Al-Qaeda affiliate Ahrar Al-Sham (formally Al-Nusra) has rejected the ceasefire and claims his group will continue to wage war.
This group continues to receive Saudi funding, has been given arms by Obama, and Hillary Clinton and the US government have vetoed a motion in the UN to proscribe the group as a terrorist organisation in spite of the fact that they are part of Al-Qaeda (the biggest brand in Islamic terrorism before ISIS came along).
This fact however segues into the more fundamental reason why the ceasefire is useless.
Although Lavrov and Kerry jointly back a cessation to violence, this cannot be meaningful unless both men agree on the origins of the violence.
In other words, one cannot sign an accord in the name of peace before one agrees on who the bad guys are.
Russia’s position remains that the legitimate government of Syria fights for peace, civilisation and for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities as well as the rights of women.
By contrast, the constant re-branding of this or that terrorist organisation is useless in spite of US arguments to the contrary.
Any terrorist is a bad terrorist so far as both Syria and Russia are concerned, the colour of the flag they wave on a particular day doesn’t change the colour of the blood they extract from their victims.
By contrast, the US, busily engages in rhetorical somersaults to demonstrate why such and such group are good freedom fighters whilst the others are evil terrorists, in spite of the fact that they are both waging jihad style terrorism on a pluralist government.
I doubt anyone in the US State Department actually believes that one man calling himself ISIS on Monday and Free Syrian Army on Tuesday and printing out a membership card to Ahar Al-Sham on Wednesday actually changes his aims when doing so.
It’s simply a rhetorical and strategic position designed to weaken Assad’s government as much as possible whilst pandering to a domestic public who know they hate ISIS but have never heard of the other groups who not only do the same things but are more or less the same thing.
Furthermore, the Russia-US ceasefire is a chance for Obama to save face before an international audience.
The soon to be ex-president can now say ‘he did his best’ to help Syria when in reality Assad will be president long after Obama has left office and sadly the war will likely continue in some form or another even when a new US President takes office.
That being said the Syrian army have made significant gains both in Aleppo and in the push towards Raqqa.
Russia has always welcomed cooperation with America over Syria’s war against terrorist groups, but have never been and will never be willing to compromise the principled stance the Russian government has taken in Syria.
This agreement is more like a schoolmaster patting a stupid child on the back saying ‘well at least you didn’t fail every question on the exam’ than it is anything of substance.
It is a symbolic American climb down which will not change Russia’s position and will not actually stop the violence in Syria.
It is to Damascus what the failed Minsk agreements have been to Donbass.