For those who worry about World War III:
US and Russia have just agreed on a ceasefire in Syria!
❤ by Jose Rizal M. Reyes / February 24, 2016; updated 11:11 p.m.
This is bad news for the prophets of doom. But for those who worry about World War III erupting in the Middle East anytime soon, this should be received as welcome news. A ceasefire in Syria was recently agreed upon by the United States and the Russian Federation, as revealed in a speech by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“ Dear friends, I have just held a phone conversation with the President of the United States, Barack Obama,” revealed Putin in his opening statement. The said phone conversation could have sealed the ceasefire agreement earlier worked on by American and Russian negotiators. Curiously, both the phone conversation and the ceasefire agreement were hardly covered by the Western press.
- NOTE: The full transcript of the Russian president’s speech, as translated in English from the Russian original, can be read at the end of this article.
- If you have problem in viewing the video above, you may try this link: bit.ly/21quutU. Or this one: bit.ly/1oGTvTQ.
Putin continued: “The conversation was initiated by Russia; however, interest toward dialogue was undoubtedly mutual. We have agreed on common grounds of understanding for a ceasefire in Syria. Preceding this discussion was the intensive work of Russian and American experts. We were able draw upon previous experience, such as our combined efforts in eradicating chemical weapons from Syria.”
According to the Russian president, the ceasefire will take effect from midnight of February 27, Damascus time. The Islamic State, Jabhat al Nusra, and other terrorist groups are not included in the ceasefire agreement. Meaning, military action against them by other parties may continue and vice versa.
The announcement of the Syrian ceasefire comes in the heels of warnings by European countries that Turkey could not expect NATO support if it starts a war with Russia. This after Turkey called for a joint ground operation by an international force to end Syria’s five-year war, a proposal supported by Saudi Arabia.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was apparently banking on Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the collective defense clause that any NATO member can invoke if attacked. Article 5 states: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”
But European diplomats nixed Erdogan’s interpretation. Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn, making it clear his views are shared by other NATO countries, said that the Turkish government cannot count on NATO support if it starts a war with Russia. Asselborn asserted that Article 5 can only be invoked if a member state is the one being clearly attacked. As one German diplomat put it: ‘We are not going to pay the price for a war started by the Turks.”
Just last February 11 and 12 — in what may be regarded as a precursor to the recently agreed ceasefire in Syria — Russia, the US and European powers meeting in Munich agreed to a cessation of hostilities and to expand delivery of humanitarian aid to people caught up in the conflict. The peace deal was intended to allow the delivery of humanitarian goods and services to Aleppo and other besieged communities. The earlier truce was described as a pause in hostility but not a long-term ceasefire.
Unlike the humanitarian truce agreed on February 12, the ceasefire recently agreed upon between Russia and the US is a more advanced stage of achieving peace, hopefully.
I try to be as objective as possible in analyzing geopolitics and international relations. So allow me to say here that I have great confidence in the pragmatism, basic decency, leadership skills, cool-headedness and self-restraint of the Russian president. This has been sufficiently shown and proven in how he dealt with previous international crises — including NATO’s relentless expansion to former Warsaw Pact areas, the banning of chemical weapons in Syria, Western intrigue in former Soviet republics, and the downing of a Russian jet fighter by Turkey.
Fair is fair. If a ceasefire on Syria can be agreed upon by the US and Russia, at least half of the credit should go to Russia and its current president. I feel confident that they would not object to achieving peace anywhere in the world if it is based on fair and reasonable terms.
In a related development, prior to the announcement about the ceasefire, US presidential candidate Donald Trump had promised a good relationship with Russia in case he is elected president. Maybe this is why Putin likes Trump because that is also what the Russian leader has been wanting to happen all these past several years.
Said Trump: “I’m not saying 100%, but I think I would have a very good relationship with Putin. And I tell you what: it’s actually important for this country to do that. You can’t have everybody hating you. The whole world hates us. And one of the things that I heard for years and years: Never drive Russia and China together; and Obama has done that.”
A few years before Trump ran for the presidency, I have already been saying that Russia wanted to cooperate with the West but it is the West that seemed to be reluctant. Even after the Ukraine crisis, Putin kept on using the phrase “our American partners” — his favorite phrase to use when referring to the US.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 — an event that marked the end of the Cold War era — one “peace dividend” was closer ties between Russia and the West. The Group of Seven (G7), an exclusive club for leading industrial countries of the world, was turned into the Group of Eight (G8) to accommodate Russia. But this honeymoon period came to an abrupt end when the Ukraine crisis broke out during the latter part of 2014.
Interviewed by the German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2014 after Russia had re-annexed Crimea, former US state secretary Henry Kissinger was unhappy with the rupture in US-American relation, expressed his belief that Russia wanted to be part of the West, and hoped that the relationship could be repaired.
Said he: “One has to ask one’s self this question: Putin spent tens of billions of dollars on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The theme of the Olympics was that Russia is a progressive state tied to the West through its culture and, therefore, it presumably wants to be part of it. So it doesn’t make any sense that a week after the close of the Olympics, Putin would take Crimea and start a war over Ukraine. So one has to ask one’s self why did it happen?”
He later added: “We have to remember that Russia is an important part of the international system, and therefore useful in solving all sorts of other crises, for example in the agreement on nuclear proliferation with Iran or over Syria.”
Putin is not the first Russian leader to want a good relationship between Russia and the West. In fact, the last Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev himself talked during his time about his vision of a “common European home”.
Let’s hope the forthcoming ceasefire in Syria will hold and will be respected by allies and partners of both the US and Russia. I hope this will be the beginning of a new era of US-Russian friendship, something prophesied by the great French seer Michel Nostradamus in the first line of Quatrain 21, Century 6 of his Prophecies:
When those of the arctic pole are united together,
Great terror and fear in the East:
Newly elected, the great trembling supported,
Rhodes, Byzantium stained with Barbarian blood.
Below is the full transcript of the Russian president’s speech, as translated in EurAsia Daily:
Dear friends, I have just held a phone conversation with the President of the United States, Barack Obama. The conversation was initiated by Russia, however interest toward dialogue was undoubtedly mutual.
We have agreed on common grounds of understanding for a ceasefire in Syria. Preceding this discussion was the intensive work of Russian and American experts. We were able draw upon previous experience, such as our combined efforts in eradicating chemical weapons from Syria.
Previously, our negotiators held a number of closed consultations. As a result, we were able to reach a concrete decision. We have agreed on ceasefire to take place from midnight of 27th February 2016, Damascus time.
The requirements are as follows. Until midday on the 26th of February 2016, all warring parties in Syria must show either to ourselves or to our American partners their dedication to stopping the war. Russian and American personnel can together pinpoint on a map where exactly such groups are operating.
The Syrian Arab Army, the armed forces of the Russian Federation, as well as the US-led coalition, will not carry out military operations against these opposition groups. In response, oppositioners must cease all military activity against the Syrian Arab Army, and parties supporting them.
As for ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other terrorist groups (as confirmed by the United Nations Security Council) these parties are excluded from the agreement. Military operations against terrorists will continue.
It is critical that the US and Russia put into practice a mechanism for the realisation of this ceasefire, ensuring that military activity from the Syrian government, as well as its opposition, stops. We will set up a “hotline” and a working group, as required, for the exchange of information between parties. Russia will work closely with Damascus — with the legitimate president of Syria. We consider, that the United States will do the same with the groups that they support.
I am assured that our cooperation with the United States can radically change the critical situation in Syria. Finally, we have a chance to stop this ongoing bloodshed and torture. All routes and avenues for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Syria must be freed up.
Very importantly, we are launching a long-term, political consultation process for pan-Syrian discussions in Geneva, to be overseen by the United Nations. Recent history has shown that one-sided actions, that are carried out without a UN resolution, and geared at short term political benefits, lead to tragic results. These examples are on everybody’s tongues; Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen.
It is with this background that we approach the current situation. Russian-American negotiations and efforts to coordinate between all parties, have the potential to become a leading international precedent. This ceasefire is based on principles of international law and the guidelines of the United Nations. It reflects the efforts of the international community in the fight against international terrorism.
I would like to hope that the Syrian government, our partners in the region and further abroad, will all support the given plan of action.