Syria’s safe zones are now operational. Many are currently questioning whether these areas, mostly in the west and centre of the country will be effective in ending violence?
The answer is that they are a success even if they are a technical failure.
The goal of the safe zones is to disarm jihadist groups. Those who agree to comply with the UN approved Memorandum to create these zones will be engaging in a legally sanctioned international peace process.
Those who do not approve can be forcibly disarmed by the responsible anti-terrorist coalition of which Russia is the largest member.
In this sense Syria and her allies have scored a tactical, political and practical victory either way. The international community as represented by the UN is speaking in accord with Damascus. The message to jihadists boils down to ‘we can disarm the easy way or the hard way’.
What’s more is that with Turkey as a signatory to the agreement and the US quietly approving it, any Salifist jihadist groups who refuse to accept the terms of the safe zone Memorandum will be not only isolated, but exposed for being what Syria said they were in the first place: violent terrorists whose aim is conquest and subjugation, not peace or ‘moderate rebellion’.
The Memorandum has banished the idea that one can be an armed militant group and still be a reasonable moderate opposition party. Those who refuse to give up arms at this time will be unambiguously exposed as what many all ready knew they always had been: violent terrorists that the international community should condemn and terminate.