[Published 20 February 2016]
The deadline for a ceasefire in Syria by 19 February has passed with no indication that it will be achieved at any time in the foreseeable future.
Hopes for that ceasefire were high after the UN Security Council had unanimously passed Resolution 2254 on 18 December 2015 requesting:
“the Secretary-General to lead the effort, through the office of his Special Envoy and in consultation with relevant parties, to determine the modalities and requirements of a ceasefire as well as continue planning for the support of ceasefire implementation, and urges Member States, in particular members of the ISSG, to support and accelerate all efforts to achieve a ceasefire, including through pressing all relevant parties to agree and adhere to such a ceasefire;”
The ISSG mentioned in the Resolution is the International Syria Support Group – comprising the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States.
ISSG has proved totally ineffective in ending the five year conflict in Syria that has seen more than 300000 deaths and seven million Syrians internally displaced or fleeing to neighbouring States and swamping Europe to escape the horrific carnage unleashed in Syria during that time.
Islamic State was spawned in Syria and Iraq in July 2014 and now occupies more land than the area of Great Britain. Together with Al Nusra Front - a Syria-based Sunni extremist group that adheres to the global jihadist ideology of al-Qa’ida - both have been declared terrorist organisations by the UN Security Council.
Meeting in Munich on 12 and 13 February the ISSG members agreed that:
“The UN shall serve as the secretariat of the ceasefire task force. The cessation of hostilities will commence in one week, after confirmation by the Syrian government and opposition, following appropriate consultations in Syria.
During that week, the ISSG task force will develop modalities for the cessation of hostilities. The ISSG task force will, among other responsibilities continue to: a) delineate the territory held by Daesh [Islamic State], ANF [Al Nusra Front] and other groups designated as terrorist organisations by the United Nations Security Council; b) ensure effective communications among all parties to promote compliance and rapidly de-escalate tensions; c) resolve allegations of non-compliance; and d) refer persistent non-compliant behaviour by any of the parties to ISSG Ministers, or those designated by the Ministers, to determine appropriate action, including the exclusion of such parties from the arrangements for the cessation of hostilities and the protection it affords them.”
The ISSG task force failed to meet once during that critical seven day period.
Whilst the UN and the ISSG task force mumbles, fumbles and stumbles – the carnage continues - as the ISSG members remain divided between those supporting Syria’s President Assad retaining power and those seeking his removal.
The ISSG is hopelessly conflicted and needs to adopt a different approach to begin ending the suffering of the Syrian people.
All ISSG members unanimously agree that Islamic State and Al Nusra Front represent a grave threat to world peace and security.
Russia, America, China, France and the United Kingdom – the five permanent members of the Security Council and all ISSG members - need to combine their diplomatic power to procure the passing of an unequivocal and unambiguous Security Council Resolution establishing a UN military force to confront and defeat Islamic State and Al Nusra Front.
Until these enemies are comprehensively defeated – all else is diplomatic doublespeak and a complete waste of time in ending the conflict in Syria.