The big news yesterday was that after some five hours of intense negotiation on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, an agreement was reached between the major powers on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria within the next week.
According to the agreement:
The [International Syria Support Group] members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.
Now today — just one day after the ceasefire agreement — we discover that a massive shipment of ground-to-ground “Grad” missiles has been sent by US allies (and the CIA?) to rebels fighting against the Syrian government.
‘It is excellent additional fire power for us,’ said one of the commanders, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The second rebel commander said the missiles were being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. ‘They give the factions longer reach,’ he said.
What are we to conclude by this dramatic turn of events? Two possibilities.
One, that since the deal is not finalized on paper the foreign powers backing regime change for Syria did not feel the need to halt the shipment and in fact may have hastened the delivery.
Two, that the “rebels” being supplied do not fall under the terms of the agreement spelled out above. In other words, the ceasefire does not apply to ISIS or al-Qaeda or affiliated forces, so perhaps the foreign Grad suppliers decided this is a two-way street: if Russia is still free to bomb the terrorist groups, then Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. are still free to provide them weapons.
Does anyone have any confidence in this kind of ceasefire when either the “moderates” or named terrorist groups are being armed to the teeth on the eve of its implementation? Will the Russians begin to doubt the veracity of their western partners’ commitment to halting the violence in Syria when they learn of this massive weapons shipment?