Yesterday the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed on a peace plan for Syria. Were Vice President Biden around, he might call this “A big f–king deal.” (More)

“It is complicated. It will remain complicated.”

You wouldn’t know it from Memeorandum, where this morning’s top story (driven by page clicks) is the Bernie Sanders campaign suing the DNC over access to the VoteBuilder database. I expect that will also be the hot topic in tomorrow morning’s Sunday Blatherfest.

But despite not appearing on Memeorandum at all, yesterday’s biggest news story happened at the United Nations Security Council:

For the first time since the nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war began, world powers agreed on Friday at the United Nations Security Council to embrace a plan for a cease-fire and a peace process that holds the distant prospect of ending the conflict.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council reflected a months-long effort by American and Russian officials, who have long been at odds over the future of Syria, to find common national interests to stop the killing, even if they cannot yet agree on Syria’s ultimate future.
“This council is sending a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria and lay the groundwork for a government” that can hold the country together, Secretary of State John Kerry said at the Security Council.

Later on Friday, he added: “No one is sitting here today suggesting to anybody that the road ahead is a gilded path. It is complicated. It will remain complicated. But this at least demands that the parties come to the table.”

“Syrian people will decide the future of Syria”

The Security Council agreement is silent on the future of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, whose regime has so far survived a five-year civil war:

U.N. Security Council members agreed Friday on a resolution on a peace process for Syria involving talks by representatives of the Damascus government and the opposition, but the draft says nothing on the critical issue of what role President Bashar Assad will play.

Diplomats had rushed to overcome divisions on the draft resolution while world powers held the latest talks on how to bring an end to the conflict, which is deep into its fifth year with well over 300,000 killed.

The resolution has been described as a rare gesture of unity on the Syria peace process by a council often deeply divided on the crisis.
Within six months, the process should establish “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance,” with U.N.-supervised “free and fair elections” to be held within 18 months.

The draft calls the transition Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, stressing that the “Syrian people will decide the future of Syria.”

The U.S., Britain, and France called for President al-Assad’s removal, but Russia and China would not accept that as a precondition for peace talks. The deal follows President Obama’s long-standing practice of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, but Sec. Kerry repeated yesterday that President al-Assad lacks the capacity to reunite Syria:

The resulting agreement “gives the Syrian people a real choice, not between Assad and Daesh, but between war and peace,” Kerry said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State extremists.

“We’re under no illusions about the obstacles that exist … especially about the future of President Assad” where “sharp differences” remain, Kerry said.

But he made clear that Assad must go if there is to be peace in Syria.

“Assad has lost the ability … to unite the country,” Kerry said. “If the war is to end, it is imperative that the Syrian people have to agree on an alternative” to their government.

But the bigger priority is a ceasefire, both to save Syrian lives and to focus military action on destroying ISIS, and that was the focus of this agreement:

The United States hopes a ceasefire between the regime and Syrian rebels would allow Russia, along with the U.S.-led coalition of Arab and Western allies, to focus on fighting the jihadists.

“You can’t defeat Daesh without also de-escalating the fight in Syria,” Kerry said in Moscow, using another name for ISIS.

If the UN-established timeline holds, we should see significant progress against ISIS – and toward peace in Syria – by next summer. That would ease the suffering of the Syrian people. It might also calm the fears of the American electorate. And I call that a win-win.


Photo Credit: Timothy Clary (Agence France-Presse, Getty Images)


Good day and good nuts