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Syrian Ceasefire: Significant or Symbolic?

Syrian Ceasefire: Significant Or Symbolic?
The latest nationwide ceasefire to enter into force in Syria has raised high hopes that it will significantly alter the course of the war, while others are more pessimistic and think that it's mostly just a symbolic move.

The UN Security Council approved Resolution 2401 in response to the humanitarian crisis in the eastern Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta. The terrorists that occupy that "de-escalation zone" refused to lay down their arms and instead have been lobbying a volley of missiles at the capital, thus provoking the national military and their allies to commence decisive anti-terrorist strikes in the area.

Some civilians have inevitably been caught in the crossfire, though the true extent of their suffering is difficult to determine because the Mainstream Media and their so-called "White Helmet" allies have sought to manipulate the situation in order to reframe it as a repeat of the 2016 Aleppo campaign. Nevertheless, the Security Council felt strongly enough about the need to protect civilians that they passed the decree ordering that a 30-day ceasefire be implemented in the country, with Russia even going a step further to push for a five-hour humanitarian pause each day so that non-combatants can evacuate.

The caveat in all of this is that the ceasefire only applies to recognized "rebel" groups and not terrorists, meaning that the government's liberation operations against such groups will continue. Not only that, but this workaround is already being exploited as a loophole by Turkey in order to continue "Operation Olive Branch" against the YPG Kurds, which suggests that it could also be taken advantage of by the US and Israel as well. This draws into question whether the latest ceasefire is more about symbolism than substance and simply in response to manipulated media reports about eastern Ghouta.

Whatever the case may be, the ceasefire resolution comes at a very sensitive moment for Syria when the Astana and Sochi peace processes are picking up while uninvited foreign military involvement is at an all-time high with the US and Turkey deepening their involvement in the country. On the one hand, a political solution is being progressively advanced in international venues, but on the other, a military one is being implemented in the northern corners of the Arab Republic. The contradiction between these two trajectories is further destabilizing Syria, and it's in this context that the UN is found it fitting to push for a ceasefire.

To discuss this, Andrew is joined by Sarah Abed, independent journalist and political commentator, and Ghoufran Derawan, an English teacher, movie maker and an independent journalist.

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