Although the deal calls for the cessation of hostilities as of Saturday at midnight, you shouldn’t expect the Russians and the Iranians to halt their advance on Aleppo and likewise, you shouldn’t expect Turkey to stop shelling the Azaz corridor in a largely transparent effort to keep the supply lines to the rebels open.
The stakes are simply too high now. As we’ve explained exhaustively, the fall of Aleppo to Hezbollah and the Russians would for all intents and purposes be the end of the rebellion. Assad would once again control the bulk of the country’s urban backbone in the west and that would mean his rule would be effectively restored.
Additionally, don’t expect Hezbollah to simply pack up and head back to Lebanon once the rebels are defeated. Iran will most likely keep Hassan Nasrallah’s army in place to provide security as well as members of the various Shiite militias the Quds called over from Iraq. Similarly, the Russians won’t be going anywhere either. Vladimir Putin now has an air base and a naval base in Syria and The Kremlin will want to protect those installations vociferously during what is likely to be a turbulent couple of years following the demise of the rebel cause.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia know all of this and they’re fuming mad. The last thing Saudi Arabia wants is for Tehran to preserve the Shiite crescent and the supply line to Lebanon and Turkey is now in a bitter feud with the Russians following Erdogan’s ill-fated move to down an Su-24 near the border on November 24.
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