If Syria collapses that could start a domino effect which would be devastating. Which is why this break in hostilities is literally the last chance saloon and if it falls apart there is nothing but wilderness and a cold wind after that.
Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. ReutersSyrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. Reuters
Most of the world doesn’t care very much and that is noticed by the lack of public interest and the inability to absorb any more data through synapses that have been overloaded.
Yet, the whole world will pay a price either or both the US and Russia walk away.
Which is why these seven days in September starting Monday are vital.
After five long years the option of peace is being exercised. It is easy to be cynical and pass judgement on the odd parameters of this truce but both media and governments have an overwhelming responsibility to ensure that they work towards strengthening the fragile fibres into a rope rather than snipping them prematurely.
In Damascus the sounds of silence are probably the loudest they have ever heard in years and there is wonderment whether it will last the first seven days because at that milestone there will be the major movement from Washington and Moscow to sit on the same side of the table and negotiate proper peace talks with nothing off the table including a farewell, so long, auf weidersehen, goodbye to the Assad regime.
To be renewed every 48 hours, the first two days are crucial for this ceasefire and though Russia has excluded terror camps and strongholds from the peace that is worrying in the sense that rebel groups could get trigger happy. By the same token the Syrian army, which has spiked its guns, has warned that this spiking is predicated to an absence of provocation from any entity or any violation of the ‘regime of calm’ that has descended upon the country.
The media which controls nor just perceptions but also can manoeuvre news into channels of reality and cause chaos of its own has already begun to unravel the knit. Western media especially seems to have indicated the very poor chances of the seven day period being successfully completed. Now, while it might make good headlines the need to be dubious by habit must be curbed. Western channels are already deep into gloom and doom with Fox, ABC and Sky already predicting the guns to go off pretty much any moment now.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has got it right when he says that this could well be the last chance to smoke that pipe, failing which an open ended multi-sided battle could see Syria disintegrate and the civilian population face death in huge numbers.
And don’t think anyone is out of the orbit of the fallout.
It is almost as if Kerry feels he is at the end of his tether where Syria is concerned and with the change of the guard in the White House the next President may not even care to get involved. Obama also wants a strong footnote to his legacy and time is running out. This initiative is, therefore, not just a lifeline for Syria but also creates a little more stability in the Middle East at a time when the region needs to heal.
The one major fear at this time is the collapse of the peace move through rumour or misunderstanding.
Russia must also exercise restraint while defending its troops against any terrorist aggression but keeping the greater good in mind not up the ante during these crucial seven days.
Time for all elements to think of the possibility of a durable peace in positive terms not as if it was doomed even before it had started its walk.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights should play referee and alert all these parties to any infringements and try and pre-empt anything that even remotely endangers these seven days in September.