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January 24, 2022
EDITORIAL

An “interesting” Twitter post

Strolling all over Twitter comes with double benefits. You are fully informed not just on the positions taken by the personalities of this world in various fields and files (in order to “exist”, almost all celebrities living today have a Twitter account, from state presidents to heads of governments or top personalities of various fields, not to mention various national and international institutions) as well as the most noteworthy appearances in the media. They are selected by people you have been following in politics, diplomacy, business, etc, for recommending significant, exciting news, which are commented on their turn, and thus, you are the beneficiary of up-to-date information in real time. But, at the same time, you find out things that would otherwise remain forever unknown to you. I do not say “forbidden”, as, if such things appear publicly, they are not included in the category of secrecy but, one way or another, they can be overlooked, they can pass unnoticed, making you miss out on a clue to a faster comprehension of a topic that interests you. An example in this last perspective will clarify in a more simple manner the things I want to prove.

Here is the history of this Twitter post and I think it sums up a definition of a state of facts – the future of the Russian – American relations but, similarly, an agenda of the potential future in a highly complex file, the one on Syria. Following Michael McFaul, former US Ambassador to Moscow during the “reset”  (2010-2013)  between the two grand actors, now a professor of international relations at Stanford University, a comment of his (“interesting”) and a link to another Twitter account stirred my curiosity. Here is what I found following his link:

U.S. Embassy SyriaVerified account ‏@USEmbassySyria

#SecKerry: We agreed on a target schedule for establishing a framework for a pol transition & a draft constitution, both of which by August.

10:54 AM – 25 Mar 2016

17 RETWEETS 9 LIKES

Reply to @USEmbassySyria

The Twitter account of the US Embassy in Syria does nothing more than reiterating the main ideas of the statement made by state secretary John Kerry at the common press conference held with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on March 24, 2016. At this press conference, the first person to talk was the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, S. Lavrov, who made a review of American – Russian discussions held that day (as the Head of American diplomacy not only met his counterpart, but President Putin, too). He mentioned from the beginning that “Today, many issues were discussed in detail. We began by discussing our bilateral relations in great detail, and we have been practically discussing the key international issues”. More precisely, the two high diplomats discussed the situation in Syria and the chances of launching the peace procedure according to the resolution adopted by the UNO Security Council on December 18, 2015, concerning ways to solve the Syrian file. As for mentioning some precise data concerning the accomplishment of certain objectives – the ones referred to by the Twitter account of the US Embassy in Syria – here is what John Kerry had declared in the press conference: “We agreed today to build on recent gains by taking immediate steps to reinforce the cessation of hostilities, including by working to end the use of any indiscriminate weapons, to end the – to halt attempts by either side to seize new territory, and to finalize a common understanding  for how this cessation can be institutionalized, how it can work even more effectively. We agreed today that the United States and Russia would push for expanded humanitarian access in order to reach all parts of Syria, (…). We agreed on a target schedule for establishing a framework for a political transition and also a draft constitution, both of which we target by August. (editor’s highlight.)  And we agreed that the next steps in the Geneva talks is to immediately take up the details of the political transition – the best and perhaps the only way of ending the war – and also to do so under the terms of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva communique combined.” The selection applied by former American Ambassador  McFaul on the Twitter notes of the US Embassy in Syria (on their turn, a resume of agreements reached in Moscow, according to the stenography notes of the Lavrov-Kerry press conference) is important. It is proof – actually it is the only mention of a deadline in the agenda of the peace road map conceived by the two politicians during the press conference – that the month of August was decided in Moscow for establishing an agreement between involved sides (the side of the Government and the groups of the opposition),  in the civil war concerning transition to a new political regime in Syria. Thus, it will be a regime with or without Assad? It all will depend on the way people involved in the negotiation process in Geneva, the Government and the Opposition, will decide until August 2016.

There is, ultimately, one question left: what if an agreement is not reached between the two parties? Would it also mean the restart of the civil war? May it be imagined that, in Moscow, the two diplomatic powers, who are actually the sponsors of this negotiation process initiated in Syria, also discussed action versions in case of a failure. Yet, nothing about these discussions was mentioned in the press conference. Yet, it is hard to imagine, that considering their positions expressed in other files, especially the one of the Ukrainian crisis, such discussions did not occur at all. Lavrov even declared that the negotiations were conducted  “in order to fully implement the parameters of the UN Security Council Resolution 2264/ in fapt 2254/ about the processes which would form the transitory governing structure and lead to the agreement on the new constitution and the free elections based on this new constitution” . Yet, at the same time, the Head of the Russian Diplomacy also pointed out, discussions touched “some other conflicts in the Middle East and north of Africa, including Libyan conflict and conflict in Yemen. We have said that we must revive the Palestinian and Israeli talks within the international law and the existing resolutions and solutions of the UN. And for the region as such, we need to find the balance of interests of both the parties involved in conflict and the key stakeholders or external players.”

As one may see, the scale of bilateral agreements was more than ample, with carefully chosen dimensions destined to maintain a balance between internal and foreign interested actors, in a region that was much more expanded to the Syrian perimetre. Could this planning of regional balance could be done without an agenda? “August 2016”, mentioned by John Kerry in the press  conference – undoubtedly represents a memorable date, also for what he described during this press conference as “President Obama’s pledge to roll back sanctions when all of the provisions of Minsk are complete, including the withdrawal of all weapons and fighters and the return of Ukraine’s sovereign border.” Obviously, he was discussing the sanctions of the West on Russia, inseparably connected to the application of  Minsk- 2 stipulations, but also the fate of the Assad regime in Syria. One should not forget mentioning another fact. More precisely, that if the things mentioned in the so-called press conference reveal a higher rank of agreement of the two sides in touchy files of international present reality, the fast evolution of events also showed one more thing. It shows that there are topics left that places the two sides on opposed positions, such as, by example, the matter of  balance in the field of strategic weapons. Therefore, how can one explain the fact that, at the nuclear summit, organized on March 31 – April 1, 2016, in Washington, by President B. Obama, his Russian counterpart was not present? Therefore, in the field of  strategic balance between the two states, there are still points of view that go unsolved, as the matter is probably concerning the integrity of the treaty referring to the short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles signed as early as 1987 by Presidents R. Reagan and, respectively, M. Gorbachev. It is to be expected, therefore, that we would soon note the opening of this touchy file and, also, it being linked to other, no less touchy.

Therefore, here is the history of a Twitter post. In its absence, one could have established a quite believable connection between the survival of the Assad regime, Western sanctions on Russia and the application of Minsk 2, all of them events of the near future. Obviously, one could have established the connection but this Twitter post saved us a massive amount of information collecting work. It is one of the undoubted benefits of the era of digitalisation and of intensively used social networks.

 

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