It seems the Trump administration has achieved a major foreign policy win regarding the Syrian civil war. On Friday, President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed several different issues, and the two leaders came to an agreement that likely prevented war.
Their deal is a planned cease-fire, which will begin on Sunday at noon. The Associated Press reported that the cease-fire is intended to decrease violence in the southwestern region of Syria.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.”
The United States and Russia’s interests have been at odds with one another. Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, while the United States has backed the rebels fighting against Assad’s regime. However, both countries have a mutual interest in destroying the Islamic State.
While the cease-fire is expected to begin on Sunday, all of the details have not yet been worked out. It is not known how the cease-fire will be enforced. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the Russian military police would enforce the agreement, but Secretary of State Tillerson has said that this has not yet been ironed out. Both parties have said that the rest of the details would be determined in coming days.
According to the agreement, Assad’s forces will stay on one side of the demarcation line while the rebels will remain on the other side. If both parties honor the accord, it will enable aid to reach the civilians living in the area. No end date for the cease-fire has been established.
This deal will be the first diplomatic effort taken by the Trump administration in Syria. In April, the president ordered a strike against a Syrian air base after the Assad regime launched a brutal chemical weapons attack. Israel — who is also a part of the agreement — has also taken military action in Syria. Since they share a border with Syria, they are concerned about violence spilling over into Israel’s northern region. Israel is also worried about Iranian forces gaining more strength — a concern that is shared by the United States.
The cease-fire agreement is the biggest diplomatic win for the Trump administration since the president took office. However, it is not yet clear whether or not this agreement will be effective. In the past, they have failed to decrease the levels of violence in Syria. However, Secretary Tillerson seems to be optimistic about the current deal. He stated that Russia is just as interested in a peaceful Syria as the United States.
While the United States has indicated that it does not intend to remove Bashar Al-Assad from his position, Secretary Tillerson also expressed his opinion that the regime is “untenable.” He is hopeful that the Kremlin will address the issue of Syria’s leadership in the future. Of course, President Assad has stated that he is not willing to accept any agreement that takes his regime out of power.
The United States and Russia’s cease-fire agreement may be the first step in bringing peace to Syria. If deals such as this are useful in Syria’s southern region, it could be used in other areas of the country. Either way, there is still much more work to be done. But one thing is certain: President Trump has once again defied his critics, showing he’s more than capable of handling our nation’s foreign affairs.