Report

Russia Pushing Continuation of Truce in Syria with Local Deals

The tenuous ceasefire in Syria is continuing to hold despite scattered violations, but various groups are preparing for the possible collapse of the truce. The Russian military is organizing meetings with local leaders in various towns to sign documents guaranteeing the continuation of the ceasefire and government control in exchange for security guarantees and other ...

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The tenuous ceasefire in Syria is continuing to hold despite scattered violations, but various groups are preparing for the possible collapse of the truce. The Russian military is organizing meetings with local leaders in various towns to sign documents guaranteeing the continuation of the ceasefire and government control in exchange for security guarantees and other assistance. In Aleppo, residents fearing the start of a government siege if the truce ends and heavy bombardment by Russian forces resumes are planting crops in city parks and working to bring livestock into the city to prepare.

The Syrian opposition has accused Russia and the regime of not abiding by the agreement in the northwest of the country, where clashes in Latakia and Idlib Provinces have continued. “What is the value of a truce if its overseers – meaning America and Russia – do not push all sides to abide by it?” opposition official George Sabra said, threatening not to participate in international talks set to resume on March 9. The United States said yesterday that it would review the personnel and procedures in place for reporting violations of the ceasefire after rebels and journalists said they had difficulties reaching the DC-area phone number and communicating with individuals who spoke limited Arabic.

Russia and Assad “Weaponizing” Refugees, Says U.S. General

In testimony to the U.S. Armed Services Committee, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said that Russia and the Assad regime are “weaponizing” the exodus of refugees fleeing Syria with the goal of weakening the NATO alliance. He also said that “violent extremists, fighters, and criminals” were embedded in the migrant population.

Headlines

  • The Islamic State is believed to be bringing in new income by playing currency markets in through hawala transfers by intermediaries in Jordan and Iraq, according to a British government official speaking at a parliamentary hearing; the counter-Islamic State coalition is working with banks to cut off this revenue, he said.

 

  • Turkish police shot and killed two women after they threw a hand grenade at a police bus and opened fire on a police station in the Bayrampasa neighborhood of Istanbul; the motive and affiliation of the attackers is still unknown.

 

  • The Egyptian parliament voted to strip talk-show host Tawfiq Okasha of his parliamentary seat because he met with the Israeli ambassador to Egypt last month to enlist his support in Egypt’s dispute with Ethiopia over dam construction and water access.

 

  • An aid ship from the World Food Programme was finally allowed to dock in Hodeida, Yemen, yesterday after being diverted to Saudi Arabia last month because it was carrying communications equipment in addition to humanitarian supplies.

 

  • Saudi Arabia has raised the cost of oil exports to Europe and Asia, its largest market, and cut the price for exports to the United States; all of the price adjustments remain below the international benchmark price.

Arguments and Analysis

The Great Brotherhood Divide” (Mostafa Hashem, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“Two factions within the Muslim Brotherhood are dueling for control, diminishing the group’s ability to address challenges  from the regime and driving its supporters to other actors, among them the Islamic State.  In February 2014, the youth — who were increasingly calling for revolutionary action — successfully pressured the group to hold internal elections to restructure its governing bodies and address the leadership vacuum. This allowed them to take a more active role in internal leadership, especially on the ‘crisis management committee.’ Since then, following the arrest of Mohamed Wahdan, a member of the guidance bureau aligned with the youth, the crisis management committee has been disbanded and replaced by the ‘high administrative committee.’ This has added to the tension between the youth and old guard, whom the youth claim were behind Wahdan’s arrest and took advantage of the leadership vacuum to place Mahmoud Ezzat (also a member of the guidance office and deputy guide) as the Brotherhood’s default supreme guide.”

 

Losing Syria’s Youngest Generation” (Reva Dhingra, Middle East Research and Information Project)

“In 2013, as the international community increasingly came to terms with the prolonged nature of the Syrian conflict, the UN and numerous NGOs piloted the ‘No Lost Generation’ initiative, aimed at preventing further educational loss for Syrian children across the region. Yet both education-specific and region-wide appeals remain consistently underfunded — international appeals received less than half of required funding in 2015. Political constraints and bureaucratic barriers have additionally hampered access to formal schools. Instead, international actors have emphasized the development of ‘innovative solutions’ to address the burgeoning educational crisis facing both Syrian and host community children. These innovative solutions have in part taken the shape of ‘alternative education’ programs that are intended to be temporary learning spaces for children unable to enroll in school. While education actors involved in the Syrian crisis response continue to emphasize the ultimate goal of bringing out-of-school children back to the formal school system, alternative education, a term encompassing both short ‘informal’ education programs and two-year ‘non-formal’ education programs, has become increasingly prevalent as a way to provide a temporary safe haven for children during the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.”

-J. Dana Stuster

AMER ALMOHIBANY/AFP/Getty Images

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