To the surprise perhaps only of the Obama Administration, the recently-brokered Syrian ceasefire is proving less than effective. UN convoys loaded with aid for the people of Aleppo and other besieged areas are standing by in a buffer zone on the Turkish border for the fourth day in a row now. They’re unable to move further because the Syrian government hasn’t granted the necessary permits and assurances.
The Russians are pointing fingers. They have accused U.S.-backed rebels of numerous violations, including failing to fall back near Aleppo. According to the Kremlin, the rebels failed to pull back from Castello Road, the only entry point into the besieged city, and on top of that are regrouping and rebuilding their strength. The Russians also claim that the Syrian army originally retreated according to the agreed-upon terms, but has resumed its position along the road as of Friday evening (local time).
Doing his best to push back, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a warning to Russia, saying that if the Syrian regime doesn’t let the aid trucks through, there will be no U.S.-Russia military coordination in Syria.
Excuse us while we put our surprised faces on at where this has all so quickly ended up. As Walter Russell Mead wrote when the ceasefire was brokered,
Secretary Kerry, after much hard work, has gotten Putin to accept an temporary alliance with the United States on Russia’s terms. Assad is already stronger as a result of this agreement; America’s alliance network in the Middle East is already weaker. It’s likely that Putin will push the envelope of the agreement to inflict further humiliations on the Obama administration and inflict further damage on America’s international position. One hopes that at least the people of Aleppo will gain some kind of reprieve from all this, but unless the next administration changes course, the restoration of an Assad-run Syria is looking more likely than before Kerry flew to Geneva.
Only the U.S. Administration thinks Russia should be as eager for a Syrian ceasefire as it is. This is not ultimately about Syria—the Kremlin’s big picture goal is to serially humiliate the United States, thus weakening the foundation of the liberal world order. And thus, once again, Lucy looks to be snatching the football away just as Charlie Brown tries to kick…