World powers have agreed on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria that could serve as a bridge towards the resumption of genuine peace talks later this month.
Emerging from a marathon meeting that stretched late into the night in Munich on Thursday, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said the powers had agreed on a plan that had the potential to “change the daily lives of the Syrian people”.
“Today in Munich we believe we have made progress on both the humanitarian front and the cessation of hostilities front,” Kerry said.
“We have agreed on a nationwide cessation of hostilities” starting one week from now, he said.
“This will apply to any and all parties in Syria, except for Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL] and al Nusra,” he added.
Significantly, the term “ceasefire” was not included in the plan – despite earlier calls from all sides for a more definite agreement.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from Munich, said that, while what was achieved “reads well on paper, the big test now will be turning it into reality on the ground”.
Nader Hashemi, an associate professor of the University of Denver, told Al Jazeera that he was also sceptical about the agreement.
“It’s interesting to even note that they did not use the word ceasefire. It’s cessation of hostilities, a much more ambiguous term, which basically means Russia and Assad can do whatever they want and the international community will have to simply live with it,” Hashemi said.
He added: “I think that we are headed towards a greater disaster beyond that which has characterised Syria for the last five years.”
Meanwhile, in an interview published after the announcement of this agreement, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his armed forces would try to retake the entire country “without hesitation”.
Speaking to the AFP news agency, Assad said the involvement of regional players in the conflict meant “that the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price”.
- Pray for Syria, for the implementation of this agreement to end hostilities to become reality, and for all parties to seek a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict.
- Pray for the Syrian president Assad, to agree to this cessation of hostilities, and agree to talks to find a peaceful solution.
- Pray that aid will be allowed into besieged cities and towns across Syria, to bring much need food, water and medicine to the people in these towns.
- Pray for Syria, for peace in this nation, and for healing and hope for the future for the Syrian people.
Psalm 22 vs 28: “For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.”