Press TV has conducted an interview with William Beeman, a professor at the University of Minnesota, about an announcement by the Syrian army that a “regime of calm” will begin in Latakia and Damascus on April 30.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: How do you feel about this regime of calm?
Beeman: Well, I think that there’s a lot of distrust about it. It seems to have been unilaterally announced by the Syrian government. But we expect and we know that the Russians have been calling for this for over a month. And I think the suspicion is that this has been occasioned by the Russians.
What many of the commentators have suggested is that this is an attempt on the part of the Russians and the Syrian regime to also draw the United States into a kind of agreement with them about the conduct of the conflict in Syria, a very complicated conflict with multiple parties that all believe that they have the possibility of winning this conflict in the long-run.
Press TV: I would imagine, professor Beeman, that obviously a cessation of hostilities of any sort is always a positive thing; so, will the US, do you think, take advantage of this?
Beeman: Whenever the cessation of hostilities there are two aspects to it. First of all, as you say, any cessation of hostilities is good because fewer people are killed during that period, but then there’s always suspicion on both sides that people are using the ceasefire as a way to maneuver behind the scene in order to get an advantage after the ceasefire ceases.
Of course, what we would like to see is that the ceasefire leads to a longer-term peace between the parties in Syria. And it will take quite a lot of diplomatic negotiation to make that happen.
I think you may have also known that in the United Nations, there has been an attempt to try to negotiate also a peace between various parties and the parties opposed to the Syrian government, opposed to Assad regime, essentially walked out of the United Nations and claimed that the Syrian government was being directed by the Russians.
So, this is a very volatile situation, but certainly a ceasefire is a good step to try to develop a more stable peace.
Press TV: As a final point, professor Beeman, you spoke about the HNC walking out of the Geneva talks; I’m wondering where do those peace talks, do you think, stand in your mind at this point?
Beeman: Well, there’s a lot of posturing in peace talks as I’m sure you appreciate and I’m sure your viewers appreciate that people oftentimes walk out of peace talks three or four times before actually coming to the table in order to negotiate. And so, we shouldn’t take this public posturing as indicative of what actually is happening. There is undoubtedly negotiations going on behind the scenes, and of course, I hope that all parties will return to the table in Geneva and the broker of peace.