As Russia’s ‘de-escalation’ plan comes into effect in four areas of the country, Syria expert Aron Lund explains in IRIN News why the Astana deal may not result in a lasting cease-fire.
ON THURSDAY, THE envoys of Russia, Turkey and Iran sat down to sign an agreement about Syria in the Kazakh capital of Astana. As the signing process commenced, they were suddenly interrupted by a cry from a member of the Syrian opposition: “Iran is a criminal, it has no right to be among the guarantor countries.” Opposition delegates then angrily marched out of the hall. The three government negotiators seem to have shrugged it off and proceeded to sign the agreement, thereby endowing Syria with yet another cease-fire deal to end its six-year war. So what does it say?
The three men who signed the new Astana agreement were Russian presidential envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, deputy undersecretary Sedat Önal from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari. The agreement itself builds on a now nearly five-month-old cease-fire declared on 30 December by their three countries – partly a response to the fall of the opposition enclave in eastern Aleppo that helped sway pro-rebel Turkey to seek an understanding with its pro-government rivals in Russia and Iran.