A Few Thoughts on Syria

(WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING OF THE DONALD TRUMP SHOW FOR A FEW THOUGHTS ON SOMETHING ELSE)

Although I have written mostly about the rise of Trumpenstein of late, I have been keeping track of what has been happening in the Middle East, especially Syria and Iran.   Not so much that I don’t feel painfully ignorant about it all, but enough to express a few thoughts that you can judge how you will.  I’ll  limit myself to Syria today.

But first a word about Trump (one of several reasons I gravitate towards his rise is that he seems such a reflection of us, something I hope to understand some day).   The word is the results of today’s primaries could decide whether Trump’s nomination will look inevitable or whether the anti-Trump Republicans can still hope to stage a fight at the convention in July.  The hope that Trump will not grab the 1237 votes necessary by then.

If Trump wins in Ohio today, divine intervention would seem required to stop him.  If Governor Kasich can beat him in his home state, let the games go on.  More about all that in a couple of days.

Now for Syria.  About two weeks ago a cease fire was signed by Russia and the U. S. and other major powers concerned with  the devastation and to most people’s surprise it has held up pretty well.  Of course it did not include ISIS and it has been uneven, but humanitarian aid has reached various places in desperate need and there has been markedly  less fighting overall.

Peace talks have resumed in Geneva and Russia has surprised by announcing it will be pulling out most of its forces in Syria, which seems a hopeful sign, though one American correspondent has described it as getting out before things get really messy there.

It is hard to imagine what kind of agreement can be worked out in Geneva because “our side” insists President Assad must go, while Russia has backed his staying in power.  Russian intervention has shored up Assad’s position in recent months, with the apparent goal of keeping his position strong at any bargaining table.

However, this exodus of forces makes me wonder just what Vladimir has in mind now.   I won’t even try to guess.

At least there is a glimmer of hope for peace in contrast with the assumption of endless slaughter that now prevails.

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ALEPPO A DAY LATER: Catastrophe Avoided for Now

Channel surfing around cable news this morning, I saw tucked in amidst the incessant analyses of the campaigns, a report indicating a cease fire agreement had been reached in Munich,  aimed at starting within a week.  Since my post yesterday was grim I want to point out there is a ray of hope now regarding a cease fire in Aleppo, the delivery of humanitarian aid to thousands and a continuation of talks aimed at an eventual peace deal

A report in First Post (apparently an Indian/British news site) offers a number of details as well as words of caution about the agreement.   As John Kerry is quoted as saying:  “what we have here are words on paper — what we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground.” (1)

It remains hard to be optimistic, given Russia’s pattern of making and then breaking peace deals in Ukraine as well as the complicated nature of relations among the various stake holders in the ongoing Syrian civil war.  But as Kerry said, within a few days we should have a better sense, so why not be optimistic for now and at least enjoy this weekend.

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(1)   I have noticed lately that a number of sites won’t allow me to link to them, so cut and paste this:

http://www.firstpost.com/world/world-powers-agree-on-cessation-of-hostilities-in-syria-at-munich-talks-2622854.html