Syria after 12 September Ceasefire; Alternatives and Scenarios


The ceasefire which took place on 12 September after the agreement between the US and the Russian foreign Ministers reached in Geneva; has created an unclear future for the political and military actors involved in the Syrian internal war regardless of the instability and fragility or the way of its implementation.
Insurmountable military stalemate in Syrian war would not lead to the termination of the military operation by itself. Rationality governing the behavior of actors based on interests and ideological causes are the main obstacles preventing the termination of the military operation.
In general, there is a deep chaos in practice among Asad opponents except for the ISIS and YPG (the Kurds) which are considered as an enemy by all the others. In many areas, Fatah al-Sham and other opponents are mixed together and deployed in the same areas and on the other hand, targeting Fatah al-Sham would only benefit Assad government because while Assad enemies are destroyed, a positional advantage would be provided for his forces through seizing areas controlled by Fatah al-Sham.
Although Assad opponents were backed by the US but their recent action at the town of Al-Rai where they welcomed the US special forces by calling them “dogs and pigs” and rejected direct help of the US for invading the ISIS in order to liberate Al-bab city shows their ideological orientation.
Accepting Assad’s removal from power for Russia on the one hand would be interpreted as a defeat for Putin and on the other hand, Assad’s alternative government, has no obligation to accept continued Russian military presence in Syria.
The US has promised Russia to create the Joint Chiefs of Staff for operations against ISIS and Fatah-al-Sham as the next step after the establishment of the ceasefire.
Turkey’s call for the removal of Assad from power is unchangeable. Either now or during the transitional period Assad should relinquish power. Truce with this purpose is acceptable for Turkey, but other alternatives would not be desirable for Ankara.
There is a risk that Russia may leave Iran in a political trade-off with the US and as a result, the Iranian interests in Syria and the costs paid by Iran to keep Assad in power would be lost, although this possibility is low.
Iran could enter into direct negotiations with the various parties to gain some major concessions in case of any possible give and take between Russia and the US. Iran’s military and political means to earn concession such as safe airspace for air transport and deployment in the areas controlled by the pro-Assad forces in a possible final stage of political transition period is not out of the reach.
Iran could also enter into direct talks with some opposition groups. Although there are major doubts on the possibility of a similar measure in the future (because no anti-Assad group would enter into negotiation with Iran) but it is not a useless test.
If the removal of Assad from power turns to a compulsory alternative for Iran, the only measure that should be taken by Iran is to create defense self- sufficiency for Hezbollah so that Hezbollah alone would be able to resist Israel.

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