The cessation of hostilities in Syria is holding rather better than many people might have imagined. With all its shortfalls, the ceasefire is good news for some Syrians in the short term but bad news for Turkey in the mid term.
The ceasefire in Syria that took effect on February 27 was part of a negotiated deal, based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, passed in December 2015. The deal that contained three main commitments around humanitarian access, a negotiated ceasefire and a political transition was reached in Munich by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), a group of international actors mandated to find a resolution to the Syrian conflict.
That said, Russia seems to be quite satisfied with the current agreement. It accomplishes the primary Russian goal in Syria: stopping military operations by opposition forces against the Assad regime. But the single biggest handicap of the ceasefire agreement is; it shows once again that direct military action overseas is Russia’s best method of achieving strategic objectives, with little if any adverse consequence.
Syria is the fourth incident, following Kosovo, Georgia and Ukraine, where decisive Russian military intervention has considerably changed the situation in Russia’s favor. In the last three instances, this has received international backing that the 2008 ceasefire was brokered on Georgia by the French president, the Minsk protocols were nurtured by both French and German leaders, and now the Syrian agreement has been accepted by the entire 20-member International Syria Support Group. The result can only be to encourage Russia to further military adventurism, confident that the risks of significant international reaction are low.
Implications on Turkey’s Risk Indicators
Turkey was already suffering from a negative trend in its exports to Russia and to its other traditional trading partners in the region due to the slide in oil prices. That was the main driving instinct behind the economic expansion attempts by President Erdogan to Latin America back in January and to West Africa in late February 2016.
Downing the Russian SU-24 added only more drama to the troubles Turkey has been facing in its foreign trade, triggering a serious economic backlash from Moscow and its allies in the Middle East and especially in Central Asia, Kazakhstan per say. Having encouraged to utilize military power as a means of enlargement, Russia may try on to “Putinize” Turkey’s trading partners, if not de-stabilize the nations in the region that are susceptible to “Hybrid” Russian tactics which will eventually increase the pressure on Economic Instability and Armed Aggression risk indicators of Turkey in essence.