Syria–“Cessation of hostilities” and realities on the ground (Updated March 4, 2016)

Update: Situation as of March 4, 2016

In analyzing reports of the “ceasefire” in Syria, the reader should bear in mind that no serious monitoring mechanism has been put in place. Russia and the Unitd States to a large degree control the flow of information about the overall ceasefire situation in Syria.

The U.S. State Department set up a ludicrous system by which local citizens were to call in with reports of violations. The U.S.-Russian commission to oversee the casefire did not meet for a week, until Fench demands goaded the sponsors into action.

What is needed, at the earliest possible moment, is an independent ceasefire monitoring operation, e.g., one similar to the U.N. Security Council supervision in 2012 under S.C. Resolutions 2042 and 2043.

Otherwise, Russia and the Unitd States can be expected to manipulate the flow of information in order to further their respective agendas, which at the moment may be to force the parties to meet in a new round of “proximity talks”.

(The U.N. never seems to miss an opportunity to follow an organizational precedent, such as “proximity talks”, however unsuccessful it may have been in the past.)

The hard reality is that the parties are not remotely prepared to negotiate a political solution in Syria, and the talks–now as in 2012–serve mainly to mask that reality.


Dominique Soguel (Istanbul), “Without a Plan B, Syria truce is holding despite its flaws; Both sides are alleging violations in the Syria truce, for which there appear to be no consequences. But overall the violence has been dramatically reduced,” Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2016.

“Syrien: Rebellen werfen Assad Bruch von Waffenruhe vor; Nicht mal eine Woche ist die vereinbarte Feuerpause in Syrien alt. Nun beklagt eine Rebellengruppe den Einsatz von Fassbomben durch das Regime von Machthaber Baschar al-Assad.” Der Spiegel, 4. Marz 2016 (11:57 Uhr).

Situation as of February 29, 2016

“SYRIEN-KONFLIKT: Tausenden droht in eingekesselten Orten der Hungertod Seit Samstag schweigen die Waffen in Syrien – zumindest fast. Doch die Menschen sind weiter in Gefahr. Durch die jahrelange Belagerung drohen sie zu verhungern. Frankreich drängt zu Kontroll-Treffen,” Die Welt, 29. Februar 2016.

Linda Loveluck, “Assad regime accused of violating Syria’s fragile ceasefire
Countries backing Syria’s peace process called an emergency meeting over reported breaches of the truce implemented just two days ago, The Telegraph, February 29, 2016 (7:39 p.m.).

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.