The UN Security Council has just unanimously passed a Russian drafted resolution which affirms the terms of the ceasefire agreement for Syria, originally composed by Russia and Turkey.
Strictly speaking, the agreement did not need Security Council ratification, but it is significant that Russia decided to have the UNSC effectively certify the document by passing it as a binding resolution.
The actual terms agreed were arrived at with no input from the US or any European state. It is therefore significant that the US did not veto the resolution as has happened frequently with Russian proposals for Syria.
The terms of the ceasefire are similar to those of the Lavrov-Kerry agreement from earlier in 2016, an agreement which due to the intractability of the US State Department and Pentagon, was dead on arrival.
Crucially, terrorist groups are exempted from the ceasefire, meaning the Syrian Arab Army will still be able to eliminate them as they have been doing with increased precision in the last three months.
Previously, the US and Russia could not agree on how to separate terrorists from opposition leaders deemed moderate. In reality there are no ‘moderate’ opposition parties in Syria, except for those who are already in the People’s Council of Syria and those who are seeking representation in the Council through legal democratic means.
Because of this, there may yet be moments of consternation deriving from disputes over which groups not to include in the nationwide ceasefire, due to their terrorist activities.
Turkey clearly still tends to consider some terrorist elements as ‘moderate opposition’ groups. The hope is that these disagreements will be smoothed over during the course of peace talks arranged by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
Even if the ceasefire which Russia admits is fragile does not hold, the fact that the US more or less stepped back and rubber stamped the agreement, is demonstrative of just how aloof the US has become from the realities in Syria since the days of John Kerry speaking about a ‘parallel universe’ and Samantha Power going insane, spouting rhetoric about having no shame.
The events in Syria have spiralled beyond the control of the US. Russia is now the primary foreign power who has the ability to broker a realistic settlement.
Iran is also a crucial partner.
Turkey because of her regional position is important, but whether Ankara can be trusted to live up to the terms of the agreement is still an open ended question.
For the West however, it is largely case closed: Syria has been abandoned because they know they cannot get the regime change they so desperately wanted.