WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Friday, Trump and Putin in their first meeting agreed to implement a regional ceasefire in southern Syria starting at midday Sunday local Damascus time and discussed other issues including Ukraine, hacking, and sanctions.
SYRIA CEASEFIRE/ANTI-TERROR EFFORTS
Ohio State University Professor Emeritus of International Law John Quigley told Sputnik that the agreement was a potential springboard for future progress in ending the six year civil war in Syria that has killed 600,000 people.
"The agreement on a ceasefire in southern Syria, where the United States has short at Syrian aircraft, is a positive development," Quigley said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed to a press conference in Hamburg after the Trump-Putin meeting that the two presidents had reached an agreement on a ceasefire in the south of Syria, which will come into force on July 9.
Lavrov also noted that Russian, US and Jordanian experts meeting earlier on Friday in the Jordanian capital Amman had agreed on a memorandum of understanding to create a de-escalation zone where the cease fire would hold in southern Syria.
Lavrov said the zone would be located in the regions of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida and that it would start at midday Damascus time on July 9. Washington and Moscow had both committed to ensuring that the ceasefire would be observed by all sides, he added.
Quigley said the next step could be for the United States and Russia to make future arrangements for the region around Raqqa where the Syrian army was fighting to eliminate a core stronghold of the Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh which is outlawed in Russia.
"Hopefully broader agreement can be reached on Syria, in particular in regard to who will control the area around Raqqa when ISIL is removed," he said.
Quigley advised US policymakers to allow the Damascus government to reassert its sovereignty over the Raqqa region when it was freed from the tyranny of IS rule.
"It is more likely to bring the civil conflict to an end if the [Syrian] Government can re-establish its control in that part of Syria," he said.
US, SYRIA, IRAN RESISTANCE
Dr. Christopher Davidson, associate professor in Middle East Politics at Durham University’s School of Government and International Affairs told Sputnik that Trump that powerful elements in the US government and armed forces could oppose his efforts to reduce tensions with Russia in Syria and seek a compromise.
"In my view Trump's public pronouncements do not necessarily reflect US policy, as the extent to which he has significant control over the elements that are pursuing the US' Syria strategy is questionable," he said.
Syria, Iran and Russia all had cause to develop long-held distrust of US policies and motives on the continuing conflict, so that they could oppose any US efforts to increase military and other presence as part of a peace initiative, Davidson noted.
"The biggest stumbling block is that the Syrian government and its invited allies, Russia and Iran, will be suspicious of any formal US involvement in a post-Islamic State Syria," he said.
US policies since the Arab Spring unrest of 2011 had been to seek to destabilize and destroy the legitimate Syrian government in Damascus, Davidson recalled.
"Whether the US is involved in operating no-fly-zones, organizing aid, or putting observers on the ground, all three initiatives will likely be viewed as an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of the Syrian state," he warned.
This conclusion was unavoidable given the US’ historic and continuously stated preference for regime change in Damascus, Davidson observed.