The 9th September Geneva agreement between the US and Russia on establishing a ceasefire in Syria, naturally raised expectations for fresh negotiations with the aim of launching political transition in the troubled West Asian country. Instead, in the couple of months since the promising Geneva accord on Syria we have witnessed a string of provocations: the US Air Force bombed positions of the Syrian Government troops, the UN humanitarian aid convoy was unsuccessful in delivering the much needed aid on the battleground, while on the diplomatic level unprecedented insults were heard at the United Nations Security Council meetings in New York,; insults that were backed by provocative statements. All the above exacerbated the situation forestalling the much needed interaction between Washington and Moscow, if ever we are to normalize the worrisome situation in Syria.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued statements in which it points to the Americans as being excessively emotional. Moreover, it has accused US of supporting terrorism while pointing out the unwillingness of Obama’s administration to fulfill its part of the deal. Such a deal was achieved with great difficulty; it required great efforts exercised from different quarters.
In Moscow it was quickly noticed that after reaching the Geneva agreement on the ceasefire in Syria different approaches for cooperation with Russia from the part of the US State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA have been identified.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that Washington was considering various options for action with regard to Moscow in case of failure of the agreements on Syria, including sanctions. The Washington Post reported that the White House in early October held a meeting with representatives of the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces. The meeting discussed the issue of air strikes on positions of the Syrian Government Forces. According to the paper, the meeting proposed to conduct the operation in secret, in order to circumvent White House objections. Obviously, President Obama reaching the very end of his term in office does not want to get involved in such a risky operation without the approval of the UN Security Council.
US Secretary of State John Kerry explained the US problem during a meeting with the Syrian opposition. He said: “Our international law experts tell us that we have no grounds for sending troops, unless the UN Security Council adopts a resolution. Such a resolution can be interposed by Russian or Chinese veto. We cannot do it if those people do not attack us or if we are not invited to Syria. Russia was invited by the legal regime.”
Legally Moscow is Syria’s ally and actually is a party to the conflict. But the United States and its allies in the framework of the international coalition, formed to combat ISIS, operate in Syria without a mandate of the Security Council or an invitation by Damascus. Clearly, by the yardstick of international law, the international coalition members are the aggressors. Turkey belongs to the same aggressors’ category: Ankara, without prior consultations with the Syrian Government sent in troops to Northern Syria in August.
But Washington, being too long at the receiving end of diplomatic defeats in the Middle East, seeks to shift all the blame on Moscow, accusing her that she is allegedly already militarily present in Syria, refuses diplomacy, and ‘seeks to achieve its goals through military means’.
The US went as far as blocking the Security Council resolution drafted to condemn the mortar shelling of the Russian Embassy in Damascus. The US attitude demonstrates flagrant disregard for the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. When similar crimes were committed earlier against the diplomatic missions of Western countries, Russia had always unreservedly lent its support to the Security Council condemnation of these acts.
Recently Tehran decided to publicize Washington’s attempts to sway her to their side in the Syrian conflict. In the last few months, the Americans tried to persuade the Islamic Republic of Iran or even sought to force Tehran to accept in a diplomatic way, that Bashar Assad should not play any role in the political future of Syria. However, Ayatollah Khamenei has forbidden to conduct parallel negotiations with the US on regional and Syrian issues, because the history has proven that the American officials do not deserve their confidence at all.
On the other hand, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticizes Americans as well: “we see the United States have been carrying out a duplicitous policy in Syria – one part of the US leadership works with terrorists, while another part is pursuing a policy that supports the self-defense forces of the Syrian Kurds”.
All of this means that Washington has completely exhausted its diplomatic resources. The US leadership feels that the consequences of its military and diplomatic failures in the Middle East region are to be expected. Rushing from the table of negotiations to the military maps and vice versa, trying to change the impending future, the United States only narrows the space to maneuver.