Saturday, September 17, 2016

Syrian opposition: Ceasefire deal prelude to division of Syria


A consultant to the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) of the Syrian opposition has expressed fears that the recent US-Russian ceasefire deal could be a prelude to Syria being divided, Al Jazeera reported today.
Marah Bukai, who works as a diplomatic adviser to the HNC, stated that there were details in the ceasefire agreement that the Pentagon did not want to be disclosed, even to the HNC which represents the opposition in order to try and find a political solution to the Syrian crisis that has been ongoing since 2011.
Bukai rebuffed US statements that the lack of disclosure was in order to ensure “operational security”, stating that the ceasefire deal was an agreement that benefited the US and the Russians only, and the information blackout included even the US’ European allies.
Although she did not state how the two were linked, the HNC’s diplomatic adviser stressed that she believed that the ceasefire was linked to Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and their disposal, and that once this was achieved Syria may be divided.
The HNC and the Syrian opposition as a whole reject any division of Syria, and call for a “united, civil state”, according to Bukai.
This comes as talks between Washington and Moscow due to be held last night were cancelled. The talks were supposed to discuss ways of maintaining the fragile ceasefire that has so far failed to halt the violence.
Earlier today, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov also claimed that Russia did not disclose the full details of the agreement it had due to the US’ insistence on secrecy. The lack of disclosure appears to have engendered a sense of mistrust between the Syrian opposition and the US.
A senior opposition source told Reuters: “The truce, as we have warned, and we told the [US] State Department – will not hold out.
“It is not possible for [Russia]…to be a sponsor of this agreement while it bombs night and day, while the other side [the US]…has the role of spectator.”
Although the Assad regime reportedly withdrew from the Castello Road that links to opposition-held areas of Aleppo in order to allow aid to pass through, the Syrian opposition insist that the regime made no such moves. According to Reuters, the UN also blames the Syrian regime as it has denied letters guaranteeing access to aid convoys.
The ceasefire agreement between Moscow and Washington came into effect last Monday, but has been placed into doubt as violence continues across Syria. The deal called for a cessation of hostilities between the parties to the conflict, but Daesh and Jabat Fateh Al-Sham, formerly the Al-Nusra Front, were exempt from any protections.

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