Ruben Safrastyan: Establishment of ceasefire in Syria hardly possible

Nvard Davtyan

The proposal of the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria to establish ceasefire ahead of Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha is hard to implement, Director of the Oriental Studies Institute of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences Ruben Safrastyan says. According to him, the main problem lies in the lack of unity among the opposition forces. How should the authorities act in this situation? Which are the possible developments in the light of the envoy’s proposal and new EU sanctions against Syria?

Ruben Safrastyan describes the proposal to establish ceasefire ahead of the holiday of Eid al-Adha as “a simple game.”

As foreign media have reported, the opposition will agree to the ceasefire, if the authorities make the first step. Safrastyan considers that the establishment of armistice is hardly possible, first of all because of lack of unity inside the opposition. There is no common leadership, there are separate groups financed by different countries. “If the authorities see that the opposition is not taking joint actions, they will not make the first step, either,” Safrastyan said.

Ruben Safrastyan says the proposal to deploy peacekeepers in Syria is interesting. He is inclined to think, however, that it won’t be accepted either by the authorities or the opposition. According to him, both have overpassed threshold of possible compromises.

Director of the Oriental Studies Institute considers that the European Union’s new package of sanctions cannot have a serious influence on the settlement of the crisis, either. The new restrictions, of course, are aimed to weaken the powers of the authorities. He notes, however, that “according to the data of intelligence services and think tanks, Syria still has a huge potential to continue the struggle against the rebels.”

Safrastyan says Turkey’s entry into Syria is quite possible. This can be seen from the Turkish policy towards that country, he said.

“It will be first of all directed against the Kurdish organizations functioning in Syria. Turkey will thus try to solve an issue of geopolitical importance. By striking a blow to Syria Turkey will try to get rid of Syria as a geopolitical factor in the region. Second, Turkey will thus try to win the positive attitude of the West. With its attack Turkey will be attempting to shift the balance in favor of the opposition,” Safrastyan said.

There is also a fourth factor connected with the Armenian community of Aleppo. According to some data, Turkey is trying to stir chaos among Armenians and make them leave the country. Thus, it will get rid of Aleppo, an important religious, cultural and political center comprised of people, whose ancestors escaped the Genocide.

Safrastyan does not predict large-scale military actions. Ankara’s penetration will be restricted to the border regions, he says. The expert believes these actions of Turkey will earn the support of the West, but will not be welcomed inside the country. According to him, a strong opposition has been formed in the political and public circles of Turkey, which can affect the government’s decision to enter or not to enter Syria.

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