Good news, everybody! Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are on this Syria thing and they are going to clean this shit up:
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama have discussed the situation in Syria and agreed to increase coordination between the special services and militaries of the two countries.
“For this purpose, additional measures for the rapid response to violations of the cease-fire will be worked out,” the Kremlin statement said.
Here’s the problem: at this point, Obama and Putin may be the only two people left in the world who actually think there’s still a ceasefire to violate:
Syrian peace talks came close to collapse on Monday, with the mainstream opposition announcing a pause in talks at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, although it agreed to keep its negotiating team in the city.
The Western-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said in a letter to rebel fighters that government military advances meant a ceasefire was effectively over and it was calling a postponement in the talks.
Rebels, who accuse the government of breaking the ceasefire to try to recapture the northern city of Aleppo, announced an offensive of their own, launching an assault against government forces in Latakia province on the Mediterranean coast.
Well, that’s being too harsh. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura apparently still thinks there’s a ceasefire as well–he’s said he’s willing to meet with HNC representatives anywhere in Geneva just to keep the talks going in some form. But in the end this is looking like the ceasefire is going to fail for the reason us skeptics thought it would fail–Bashar al-Assad is using the loophole that allows him to keep fighting “Islamist rebels” or “terrorists” or whatever as a blank check to attack whomever the hell he wants, and “moderate” rebels are playing along by fighting alongside/integrated with Jabhat al-Nusra and/or Ahrar al-Sham–it’s just taken longer than we all thought it would to actually fall apart.
What happens now? The HNC’s decision not to abandon Geneva altogether is a way to avoid being blamed for collapsing the whole negotiations framework, but the talks themselves, at least for now and with all due respect to de Mastura, appear for all intents and purposes to be over. The rebels say they’re open to resuming talks if there’s a genuine ceasefire around Aleppo and if there’s genuine progress on humanitarian aid, which puts the onus on Assad. But it was already unlikely that he was going to pull back in Aleppo, and a new rebel offensive in Latakia only makes it harder to envision the ceasefire being reimposed anytime soon.