Much-needed truce in Syria

THE news about a deal between Syrian Armed Forces and the opposition is surely one of the major developments in the dying hours of 2016. Both Russia and Turkey deserve credit for brokering the deal that is expected to help restore much-needed peace and normalcy in the country. However, it would not apply to the IS group and former Al-Qaeda affiliate previously known as Al-Nusra Front, now rebranded as Fateh al-Sham Front.
The agreement comes after Govt troops recaptured country’s second city Aleppo from rebels but it has to be seen whether or not the arrangement proves sustainable as a similar truce in September lasted just one week. Russia and Turkey backed opposing sides in the conflict but they worked closely not only to ensure safe exit of opposition and civilians from Aleppo but also successfully arranged a nation-wide halt in hostilities, which is first one in the fighting that began in 2011. More than 450,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, more than a million injured and over 12m Syrians, half the country’s pre-war population, have been displaced from their homes. Though no details are available as to what formed the basis for the deal but this should lead to effective and meaningful engagement between Govt and opposition. For the sake of national reconciliation, the two sides should agree to a framework that satisfies most if not all segments of the society. Lack of freedom and economic woes fuelled resentment against Govt and this aspect should also be kept in mind to prevent future conflicts. The Syrian war has created profound effects far beyond the country’s borders. Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are now housing large and growing numbers of Syrian refugees, many of whom have attempted to journey onwards to Europe in search of better conditions. Therefore, political reconciliation should be coupled with reconstruction, rehabilitation activities to encourage refugees to return and for this Syria would need help of international community.

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