The situation in Syria is so horrific that it is tempting to grasp at any straw. The news that world powers have agreed a route to the declaration of a ceasefire, in a week’s time, may be just such a straw. Of course, any prospect of a stop to the killing has to be welcomed. Yet, at the same time, there are obvious grounds for scepticism, based both on the details of the agreement and on the record of the parties involved – above all, the Russians. There are many difficult conditions to be fulfilled, before the ceasefire would come into force. The likelihood that some of these conditions will not be met would give Russia a giant loophole to justify the continuation of its bombing campaign in and around Aleppo. And, unfortunately, the record suggests that Russia is very good at dragging the west into negotiations – as cover for its continued military campaign. Read more
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