Can the deal to end Syria's Civil War succeed and is it good for Israel?

Despite some reservations, the agreement does provide hope for at least some lessening of the bloodshed and lowering of the flames.

September 11, 2016 14:36
2 minute read.
Smoke rises during fighting in the village of Ahmadiyah in Syria

Smoke rises during fighting in the village of Ahmadiyah in Syria, as seen from the Israeli side of the border fence between Syria and the Golan Heights [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The agreement secured by the US and Russia on Friday to end the Syrian Civil War came as good news for the international community, for Israel and, most of all, for the Syrian people. However, it is still premature to celebrate the end of the bloody war that has killed some 400,000 people, wounded about a million more and turned ten million into refugees.

It is a complex agreement, some of the details of which remain under wraps. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, and the agreement will be judged by the results it brings, if it brings any changes at all.

According to the agreement, Russian and US forces will continue their attacks on the jihadist organizations - the Nusra Front (which recently changed its name and supposedly became more moderate), and especially ISIS. To this end, Russia and the US will establish a joint command center that will coordinate military air operations, and likely ground operations, mainly led by special forces, as well as sharing intelligence.

The agreement also holds that the two countries will coordinate efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to war-torn areas, the hardest hit of which is Aleppo. Syrian President Bashar Assad's army is also obligated to uphold the agreement. Their part includes refraining from attacking the other, more moderate rebel groups. However, as far as Assad is concerned, these rebel groups are no less hostile than the ISIS and Nusra Front terrorists.

It is not clear what was agreed in regard to the Turkish Army, which has maintained its presence on Syrian soil and continues to attack Kurdish forces, who are also the allies of the US and moderate rebel forces.

In short, the deal that was reached, or at least what was made public, is not guaranteed to bring calm to the chaos. However, despite the reservations, the agreement does provide hope for at least some lessening of the bloodshed and lowering of the flames.

If the agreement, or part of it, comes to fruition, it should please Israel as well. Two jihadist organizations are sitting on Israel's Golan border. One of them is Shuhada al-Yarmouk, which is a sort of local arm of ISIS in the South, in the tri-border area of Syria, Israel and Jordan. The second is the Nusra Front. Along with them, there are also other rebels operating in the northern Golan Heights. They are mainly village militias that either oppose or support the Assad regime.

Israel has learned how to keep relative quiet on the border through various measures: the building of a fence, threatening messages and military attacks. This quiet is violated from time to time, as happened on Saturday when a mortar shell fell on the Israeli side of the border (for the third time in a week), but every incident like this could potentially cause an escalation.

If the deal is carried out and the jihadists are removed from Israel's Golan Heights border - Assad's army will increase its influence and control alongside groups that are "comfortable" for Israel. The chances to preserve the quiet will be increased even more.

However, at this stage, we must be skeptical that the agreement will indeed succeed.


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