16:25 GMT +320 January 2018
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    A front loader remove debris from a site hit by an airstrike in the rebel held Douma neighborhood of Damascus (File)

    'We Lost the Peace in Syria' Before the War Started

    © REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh
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    The West has made so many mistakes and failures in Syria that it lost the country already ten years ago; however, as the current Russia-US brokered ceasefire appears to hold, there is a "spark of hope" for the settlement of the conflict, according to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    "We have lost the peace in Syria before the war started," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated in an interview with German Zeit Online website.

    The German top diplomat explained that the West has made a number of mistakes and failures in the country and the Arab Spring "demonstrators and democrats" have contributed to it.

    However with the current Russia-US brokered ceasefire there is a "spark of hope" for the settlement of the conflict.

    According to the agreement, the truce in the country should last for seven days. After that, the Joint Executive Centre will begin its practical activities, and the Russian and US military will coordinate attacks on Jabhat al-Nusra (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorists in the approved areas, where operations involving Syrian aircraft will be suspended.

    In this way, the terrorists will be divided off from armed opposition groups participating in the cessation of hostilities.

    This planned military coordination between the US and Russia provides grounds for cautious optimism, Steinmeier told the website.

    "The Russians want equal cooperation with the Americans, and the Americans are ready to cooperate only if the Russians ensure that President Assad maintains the ceasefire," the top diplomat told the website in his Foreign Office on Werderscher Markt in Berlin.

    The foreign minister said that US Secretary of State John Kerry has asked the Germans to advocate the agreement in the Arab world and he would gladly do so as he has been trying to promote the peace process for years.

    However, he said, it is a lot more complicated than, for example, in eastern Ukraine, where there are only two conflicting parties, while in Syria there are about a hundred armed groups.

    "Each of them has the ability to burst the whole thing," he said.

    However there are still chances for success as the major players in the region seem to be ready to put an end to the conflict.

    After all, he explained, one of the most powerful players in Syria is the neighboring Iran. And it has already expressed its willingness to support the agreement.

    "Iran and the regime appear to be in one boat for now," he suggested, adding that it would be much harder to bring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states on board as they support many of the so-called "moderate" rebel groups.

    Even though there is hope, the German top diplomat said, the agreement between Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry is only the first step along the long road.

    The negotiations on the political solution to the crisis should be resumed in a short while.

    However "two weeks ago no one would have given a damn for the deal, and now it's in the bag," said Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    "The first messages from the region suggest that there is a chance.  No more and no less," he finally stated.

    Related:

    Kerry, Lavrov Agree to Extend Syria Ceasefire for Additional 48 Hours
    US Believes Aspects of Syria Ceasefire Too Sensitive to Share Publicly
    Tags:
    Syrian ceasefire, diplomatic solution, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Syria, United States, Russia
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