Today at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, the United States and Russia brokered a new ceasefire deal for Syria. This will be another attempt after the last one collapsed within days. Anonymous officials shared the rough outline of the new deal brokered between President Trump and President Putin during an almost two-and-a-half hour long meeting.
The arrangement not only involves the two superpowers in Syria, it also includes Jordan and Israel. Further talks to hammer out the finer details will take place at a later date in Kazakhstan. That’s an interesting development at a moment when the Middle East is on tenterhooks. Iran is making everyone uneasy, Saudi Arabia is implicated in terrorist financing but blames Qatar of the same, diplomats are bailing, and Trump wants credit for massive weapons deals (some are unconfirmed). There’s also the separate matter of de-escalation zones hashed out by Russia, Turkey and Iran earlier this year. That’s a lot of individual actors who have to be considered in the negotiations that will fan out from this ceasefire.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed hopes before Trump left for Europe that some new arrangement could be made with Russia to ease the fighting in Syria. He said on Wednesday, “If our two countries work together to establish stability on the ground, it will lay a foundation for progress on the settlement of Syria’s political future.” What that will look like is too far in the distance to observe, but it’s unlikely that Russia is going to give up the prizes its been pushing for. It will be interesting to see in the short term how Trump likes trying on the role of peacemaker when thus far, his presidency has emphasized military might.