Syria may be divided into four parts, the Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed at the talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to him, he has already discussed the creation of four zones of reduction of tensions in Syria with the US President Donald Trump and he supported it.
"We all take the view that we need to create mechanisms that would guarantee a cessation of bloodshed and create the conditions for the start of a political dialogue," Putin said.
Russia, Turkey and Iran have signed a memorandum on setting up de-escalation zones in Syria during the talks in Astana today.
Russian proposals on de-escalation in Syria envisage the creation of four zones of reduction of tensions in the country, with safety lines along them with checkpoints and monitoring centers. The warring parties would not be able to use any weapons in these zones.
Putin is suggesting four safe zones initially, in Idlib Province, Homs Northern Suburbs, East Ghouta and South Syria.
The paper emphasizes the necessary to create conditions to drive out Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations (both outlawed in numerous countries) from de-escalation zones with the help of the Syrian opposition.
Russia also proposed "creating safety lines along all the borders of the de-escalation zones in order to avoid direct fire between the sides of the Syrian conflict". Such lines would require checkpoints for the entrance of civilians without weapons and humanitarian deliveries, as well as monitoring centers to control ceasefire regime.
Russian proposals on de-escalation in Syria envisage possible deployment of guarantor states' armed groups to the country for ceasefire monitoring and the creation of a joint working group to elaborate a plan with de-escalation borders shortly, the paper with Russian proposals reads.
The guarantor states would have to create conditions in de-escalation zones in which the warring sides would allow a safe return home to refugees and internally displaced persons, according to the paper.
"For solving logistical issues, guarantor states need to create a joint working group for de-escalation, at the level of designated representatives…. The working group will have to present maps with de-escalation zones borders and work plan proposals… as soon as possible," the paper reads.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, stressed that despite all the difficulties, the Syrian crisis is entering the completion phase. "The parties are tired of the war, and no one is hoping to achieve new military successes. Apparently, attempts to achieve de-escalation on the scale of the entire territorial space of Syria make it impossible to achieve success. In these conditions, another option was chosen - the creation of zones of relative military silence," he noted.
Over time, these zones can be expanded. "The main thing is to work out two key elements in this limited space: first and foremost, it is an issue of verification, because everyone has a lack of confidence in each other," Andrei Baklanov expressed hope.
The issue of a neutral police presence is also important. "At the present, part of this function is carried out by our police units, but an international mechanism should be created for this purpose. The difficulty is that Damascus does not trust a number of possible participants in such a mechanism, so it will be necessary to find some other form of law enforcement forces in the de-escalation zones. In the Middle East, they traditionally used police forces of Norway and Sweden for this purpose," the diplomat noted.
"These safety zones are being created because it is unrealistic to reach a long-term ceasefire in a broader space. It is to be hoped that the trend towards de-escalation will lead to the fact that it will be possible to work out a cease-fire methodology in limited spaces, strengthen humanitarian functions, supply the population and reach mutual trust, without which further settlement of the crisis is impossible," Andrei Baklanov concluded.
Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Gevorg Mirzayan, in turn, noted that the creation of de-escalation zones is considered acceptable for all scenarios after recognizing the settlement of the Syrian conflict by military means impossible. "It is a transitional option before a political compromise. The only problem is that the creation of security zones requires an effective ceasefire," he noted, adding that Turkey, which has influence on the Syrian opposition, will be in charge of maintaining the ceasefire.
The effectiveness of the introduction of de-escalation zones in general will depend on the behavior of the Syrian opposition. "Recently, the ceasefire regime has been regularly violated, which is why the Syrian army was forced to transfer its troops to solve problems in central Syria. But if the opposition fulfills its obligations, the introduction of such zones will be quite effective," Gevorg Mirzayan expects.
The political scientist stressed that there is already an unofficial compromise on Assad. "Bashar Assad remains the head of Syria until the end of the civil war. I do not see the possibility of moving from this scenario, Americans, Europeans, Iranians and Ankara agreed to it," the Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation said.