Truce in Syria?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI is probably ecstatic right now — and it wouldn’t be a surprise that the 78-year-old diplomat is literally jumping for joy. Ever since Brahimi replaced Kofi Annan as the Arab League envoy for Syria two months ago, he seemed to following his predecessor’s path of dismal failure.

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Published: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 12:01 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:53 AM

But luckily, the diplomat seems to have found a detour leading to a solution — or at least the hope of it. Just when it seemed like the gory conflict Syria would never end, a ray of hope — albeit a faint one — is finally flickering. Bashar Al Assad’s embattled regime has indicated that it is willing to agree to a temporary ceasefire with the rebel forces brokered by the UN and Brahimi. Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Al Makdisi said that the Syrian government is actually willing to listen to any initiative to bring the conflict to end. Maksidi said that the ceasefire would be intended to “support a political solution and dialogue under this umbrella without preconditions”.

The opposition responded by announcing that it will reciprocate the halt in hostilities. Brahimi is eyeing the Eid Al Adha celebration, which will be held on October 25, as the occasion for a ceasefire, that will “allow a political process to develop”.

So does this mean that the tenacious conflict in Syria is finally coming to an end? Should the world breathe a sigh of relief since the adversaries have shown their willingness to communicate with each other? Not really.

Too much blood has been spilled in Syria and a great deal of insecurity and mistrust plagues both the sides. Thus, if efforts for political negotiation have to yield concrete results, the international community will have to play the role of an unbiased arbitrator. This will be a challenge because the important stakeholders are blatantly split in their support for the rebels and the Syrian regime. In fact, this factionalism — the primary reason why the Syrian civil war has endured and escalated over the past year — will make brokering an agreement between the two rival parties difficult.

Political negotiations between the government and the rebels will be particularly difficult because rebels are looking for nothing less than a complete transition from a regime that has tried to repress them by a brutal military offensive. It’s too early for Brahimi, and the world, to breathe a sigh of relief.

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