Secretary Kerry:  Partition of Syria a viable alternative

Ahead of a Syrian ceasefire agreement set to take effect February 27, Secretary of State John Kerry testified in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Tuesday and stated a partition of Syria is conceivable should the truce or further negotiations collapse.

“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer.  We’re going to know in a month or two whether or not this transition process is really serious . . . [Syrian President Bashar] Assad himself is going to have to make some real decisions about the formation of a transitional governance process that’s real. If there isn’t . . . there are certainly Plan B options being considered,” Kerry told the committee referring to the possibility of partitioning Syria.

Kerry did not reveal specifics of any proposed “Plan B” partition during his testimony.

Deflecting senators’ criticism of Russia’s commitment to the imminent truce and diplomatic probity, Kerry stated:

“Without Russia’s cooperation I’m not sure we would have been able to have achieved the agreement we have now or at least get the humanitarian assistance in.”

Addressing the situation in Syria, Dmitri Pskov, spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said:

 We think that our priority is discussing and working to carry out the plan, the initiative that has been voiced by the two presidents (Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama).”

Analysis

The most notable peril to peace and stability in Syria is groups which may not abide by the forthcoming truce, rebel groups constituting the High Negotiating Council, or those groups which lie outside the periphery of the truce, ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

Given the Kremlin’s admonition at Syria’s Bashar al-Assad following his pledge to re-take the whole of Syria, it is unlikely Assad will jeopardize his immediate future by refusing to abide by the forthcoming ceasefire.

Assad’s announcement of parliamentary elections set for April 13 offer a hint he is fully conscious his future, and potentially his life, hinges on support from his patrons in the Kremlin.

Parliamentary elections in Syria signal a potential transfer of power in the works in Damascus and certainly reflect Assad’s insatiable ambition to remain in control is fading.

Acting above the standard members of the U.S. Senate have set for Russia, Mr. Putin has already ordered the Russian air force to reduce the number of daily sorties it conducts against opponents of the Assad regime and both ISIS and al-Nusra Front radicals.

What is imperative for success is American diplomatic weight applied to opposition groups demanding they do not exploit a lull in hostilities to strengthen their positions on the battlefield or solicit military assistance from overeager opponents of the Assad regime in the region in the absence of further aid from Washington.

 

[The Guardian] [Reuters] [RT News] [Photo courtesy Slate]