Exclusive Details of Second US-Russian Accord for Syria
On Wednesday, May 4, debkafile’s sources in Washington and Moscow reported dramatic progress over the last few days in marathon phone calls between Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on ending the war in Syria.
For the first time, Moscow agreed to discuss the possibility that Syrian President Bashar Assad will relinquish power, and the conditions for such a process to take place.
In another exclusive, our intelligence sources reported that the Russians consented to negotiations on the future of senior Syrian military commanders carrying out the war against the rebels.
A clear sign of this progress was the arrival of nearly all of the heads and commanders of the Syrian rebel organizations on Monday and Tuesday (May 2-3) for talks at the US Central Command Forward-Jordan – a war room outside Amman staffed by US, Jordanian, Saudi Arabian and the UAE officers.
The gathering was arranged via a series of meetings held in Geneva over the last few days between the top diplomats of the US, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Our sources report that US officials and senior officers in charge of formulating the Obama administration’s strategy for the war in Syria presented the rebels with a series of agreements reached by Washington and Moscow on ways of ending the conflict. One of the main agreements was on the resignation of Assad and the his and his family's departure from the country, one of the Syrian opposition’s key demands.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources report that the participants in the meeting are currently discussing seven main topics:
1. The Americans and the Saudis have asked the rebel organizations to commit in writing not to ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate war crimes that Assad, his close aides and family members have committed since the fighting began in 2011. In other words, rebels who assume power in Damascus once Assad leaves will not take legal action against Assad and his loyals.
2. Washington and Moscow agreed that the ruling Baath party will not be disbanded and will continue to exist, mainly to maintain the governmental mechanisms operating the Syrian state. Our sources were informed that the rebels were told by US officials and officers of the US wish to avoid past mistakes made by Paul Bremer when he has led the authority occupying Iraq after the 2003 invasion. US President George Bush accepted Bremer’s proposal for the de-Baathization of Iraq including the dismantling of the Iraqi army and police that were under the command of the party. This process left Iraq without civilian and military mechanisms capable of administrating and defending the state.
3. According to the agreements by the US and Russia, the Syrian ground forces will not be demobilized and their divisions will remain in their current form. However, the two powers agreed to prepare a list of Syrian generals who committed war crimes in the framework of their roles under Assad's regime.
They have already concurred on the discharging of the commanders of the 1st Corps and the 2nd Corps of the Syrian army, and on leaving the commander of the 3rd Corps in his post. The commanders of the divisions most loyal to Assad, No. 4 and No. 14, will be removed as well.
4. The Syrian Air Force, considered the most loyal to Assad among all army branches, will undergo a thorough reorganization, mainly because its commanders and pilots carried out most of the war crimes by Assad’s forces during the conflict.
5. All seven of the country’s civilian and military intelligence agencies that serve the Assad regime will be disbanded.
6. While these steps are carried out, rebel forces will be gradually be integrated into the Syrian military.
7. The rebels must undertake to make war on ISIS and also the Nusra Front – to which Saudi Arabia now agrees.