After intense negotiations, the UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favour of Resolution 2401, which imposes a 30-day countrywide ceasefire upon all parties to the conflict. Certain terrorist groups including Daesh, Al-Qaeda and all other groups classified as terrorists by the United Nations, will continue to be legitimate targets of military strikes during this period.
Crucially, the final draft of the resolution differs from the original draft insofar as it forces terrorist factions occupying the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghoutha to cease their hostilities. It remains to be seen whether these terrorist groups will comply with the resolution and moreover if their supporters in western governments, including the United States will lean on them in any way, in order to force them to obey the ceasefire.
After the vote, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya criticised the United States and its partners for their abject failure to prioritise a humanitarian situation over their desired wishes to implement a political regime change in Damascus. He further criticised the US for failing to recognise the importance of protecting Syrian citizen throughout the country. whether in Damascus or anywhere else. He also reminded the United States and its partners that the Russian Embassy and Russian aid centres in Damscus have been repeatedly target by rocket fire from the terrorists of Eastern Ghoutha. He further criticised the US for its failure to tend to the humanitarian disaster in Raqqa, a city the US reduced to total destruction.
Nebenzya likened the establishment of humanitarian aid and evacuation corridors to similar efforts made during the Battle of Aleppo. It remains to be seen whether these quarters will be targeted by terrorist snipers as they were in Aleppo.
For the United States, there was little that Ambassador Nimrata “Nikki” Haley could say other than to blame Russia for a delay in voting which was necessary in order to attain amendments which would guarantee the safety of Syrian civilians.
The events of the next 30 days will serve as an important calling of the US bluff. If the US and “Israeli” proxies in Eastern Ghoutha fail to comply with the terms of the resolution, it will demonstrate the inability of the US and others to enforce the will of the United Nations on its own proxies. If the resolution holds, it will give Russia’s fellow Astana partners, whose work was praised by the Russian Ambassador, a chance to re-form de-escalation zones around Damascus. Furthermore, Russia boxed the US into a corner at the UN by forcing them to either support or veto a resolution that specifically puts a burden of obligation on the terrorist groups supported by the US. Had the US vetoed the resolution, Washington would have been directly exposed as a power seeking to put chains on the Syrian Arab Army without receiving any UN backed pressure on the terrorist groups inflicting hell on Damascus.
The proverbial ball is now in the court of the terrorists and their puppet masters.