Your Bi-Weekly Horoscope

Predictions and Readings by Maeve Ballantine.

Aries-Someone near to you may be at risk of mental burnout. Ask if they are in need of care and affection and do your best to be their shoulder to cry on.

Taurus-You may be feeling stuck with daily routine and duties to attend to. Do something unexpected and surprise yourself with all life has to offer.

Gemini- Midterm exams are coming soon and this may have you feeling very stressed. Make an extra appointment with your therapist or have a chat with a loved one to keep your mental health in check. 

Cancer-Perhaps you have been feeling a great sense of calm and relaxation in the past few weeks. Do not keep this to yourself. Let others share in your sense of peace.

Leo-You may be facing stress due to financial problems. Seek out ways to be more frugal but don’t forget that personal worth is not tied to wealth.

Virgo-With warmer weather comes new beginnings. Look for a relationship with a friend or loved one that may have been damaged and find compromise, but not at the risk of personal health and safety.

Libra-Someone has been treating you poorly and this may make you feel less than adequate. Find your true friends and stay very close to them. Do not try to please those who do not see your value.

Scorpio-A new opportunity will be coming for you soon, but you must go out to meet it. Take the risk and make your move.

Sagittarius-With all the talk of new and improved, you may be having a difficult time remembering who you truly are under all the societal pressures. Take a moment to get to know yourself again and remember how wonderful you are.

Capricorn-Your anxiety may be telling you that you are forcing yourself into too many people’s lives and that you are a burden. Know that this is false and that you are loved and appreciated and that you make so many people happy.

Aquarius-Recent responsibilities have you feeling very important. Remember how you got to where you are today and remember to stay humble and appreciate those around you.

Pisces-You may feel like you are losing sight of what is important. Take a step back and appreciate the simple things that make you happy and make you feel the most like you.

The Rise of Bernie Sanders

Written by Maeve Ballantine.

As the election draws closer and the pool of candidates to choose from begins to grow shallower, voters are beginning to take a more critical look at who there is to choose from. One candidate in particular is slowly gaining more popularity due to his straightforward attitude and progressive ideals.

Bernie Sanders ran in the 2016 election but unfortunately did not win the democratic nomination. However it was clear that he was a very close second, with polls showing he had 43% of candidates pledging to him versus Hillary’s 55%, according to fivethirtyeight.com and RealClearPolitics.com. When he announced his candidacy for a second time in February of 2019, it was clear that he had made a name for himself in the 2016 election and had a strong support system behind him. His popularity has only continued to grow and with good reason. 

Many of the policies he stands for and the projects he supports are for the better interests of all Americans, not just the top 1%. During the Obama Administration, he outwardly showed his support for the Affordable Care Act and started a program to fund community health centers for those who could not afford private care at hospitals. He also introduced a bill in 2017 to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also opposed the budget plan for the 2018 fiscal year, arguing that it is “a budget for the billionaire class, for wall street, for corporate CEOs, and for the wealthiest people in the country.” It is clear that he is running for the welfare of the working person, making sure they have easy access to healthcare and are given more able access to the country’s wealth.

 In addition to this, he is also in support of making citizenship more easily acquired for people who are trying to immigrate to the U.S., so rather than blaming people who are trying to build a better life for the problem of illegal immigration, he plans to focus on the root of the issue and tackle it head on. He is also one of the only politicians who is open and honest about where he stands. Other politicians, when asked a question, will dance around answering by instead trying to promote themselves, pointing out their achievements rather than give a straight answer. Sanders on the other hand will answer it outright rather than try to avoid it.

Some people however are rather put off by Sanders’ political standing. He has gone on record saying he is a democratic socialist, but perhaps this is not a bad thing. At manageable level, socialism raises many good ideas, such as giving power and production to the working people, so the distribution of power is more balanced. If done correctly, this could make the lives of everyday working people in America so much easier. Something else that turns people off to Sanders is his age, which causes some people to think that he is out of touch with the problems and needs of the next generation but this is simply not true. Rather than working to build a better world for himself and the people of his social class, he is working for a better America for the next generation, even if he will not be around to see it himself. So is the country ready for Bernie Sanders to be president? It is very possible, but it is up to the voters to decide.

Should We Be Dragging “Drag”?

Written by Jennifer Jenkins.

St. Mary’s LGBTQ+ services brought Perry’s Drag Brunch to the Bruce Davis Theatre and soon they’ll bring a student drag pageant in April. Perry’s features the queens: Bombalicious Eklaver, Whitney GucciGoo, India Larelle Houston, Veronica Vron Lush, and Kedra Lattimore. This sounds like a fun show to see, but some students disagree with the concept. Some believe that drag hurts the trans community, especially women. Others believe that drag is a form of entertainment and an art that doesn’t hurt anyone.

Dressing against the norm for performance purposes is nothing new. This goes all the way back to Ancient Greece where men played women’s roles on stage. The term “drag” started as slang and has evolved to describe a style of performance and costume. Drag queen, Whitney GucciGoo, defines drag as “a performer who takes pride in their work, strives to make each performance memorable while elevating whatever they are doing to the next level.” She thinks it is about “being as over the top extra as you can be and embracing that to its fullest degree.” 

GucciGoo’s opinion on drag shows the modern redefining of the art. Supporters like her believe drag can be viewed and practiced by anyone. Of course, there are those who practice drag that are not up with the times. In an interview with The Guardian, RuPaul stated, “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture.” RuPaul’s Drag Race, a televised drag competition, was a big deal for the LGBTQ+ community when it first aired in 2009. It helped drag queens become part of the mainstream and was a way for the public to familiarize themselves with the art. The current problem with this show is that there have been incidences of encouraging offensive slurs and slang. Since it is a representation of the LGBTQ+ community and it is in the mainstream, it can make some viewers believe these behaviors are normal and okay. There are also problems with cis drag queens accidentally using their voices to speak for transgender women. When cis queens “pretend to be a woman”, they can give a false pretense for transgender women. This misrepresentation can cause individuals to mistake someone’s costume for another’s daily life. 

Because of the controversy, St. Mary’s Transgenda held a special discussion on drag during one of their bi-weekly meetings. Shameless plug— these meetings are every other Thursday at 8:00 PM in the Campus Center. The meeting before Perry’s Drag Show featured Tayo Clyburn, St. Mary’s Vice President of Diversity. During the Transgenda meeting, students shared their concerns, questions, and feelings about the relationship between drag and the trans community. Some topics were difficult; many questions don’t have just one right answer. It seemed that all were in agreement that inoffensive drag shows that had performers from a variety of backgrounds are okay. It was also important to the students at Transgenda that drag shows bring to light the dangers and hate the transgender community faces. 

Throughout Perry’s Drag Show, queens interacted with students, received tips, and brought them into their acts. The acts composed of lip syncing to artists like Ariana Grande and Britney Spears. Veronica Vron Lush used DC comics characters Harley Quinn, Wonderwoman, and Supergirl in her acts while donning a glitter beard. Bombalicious Eklaver had more comedic acts with stunning costumes. The last song Bombalicious performed was a version of Dreamgirls’ “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” featuring different bits of sound such as laughter and goat bleats. Kedra Lattimore pumped the audience with Lizzo hits and wowed us with her stunning, red number and her sparkling, blue dress. India Larelle Houston called for seniors to come to the stage during the middle of the show. She asked each senior their major and what they wanted to do after graduation. Houston and pulled character traits from each senior’s answers and gave them words of encouragement. At the end of the show, students interacted with each of the queens and took pictures. 

When drag is used for comedy and the performers use terms that are offensive towards the transgender community, that’s a problem. Drag can be inclusive and informative. Some performers use drag as a creative outlet, some use it to explore their own gender identity, and some use it to pay the bills. There are a variety of styles that a performer can lean towards. Whitney GucciGoo knows “comedy queens, camp queens, look queens, beauty queens, trick queens, dance queens, avant-garde queens” and the list goes on. There’s a flavor for everyone.

What’s important is the discussions we have about drag and its effects on different communities. At the Transgenda meetings, Tayo Clyburn prompted students to “think about it beyond bringing a drag show to campus, but bringing a conversation to campus.” When we discuss drag, we make it into much more of a show. We make it into an informative experience. Clyburn also said, “Drag shows are whatever we as students decide they are.” If anyone would like to get in touch with the Rainbow Room or Transgenda, please email Calvin Ryan (cgryan@smcm.edu), Alex Clay (arclay@smcm.edu), Dylan Roeper (laroeper@smcm.edu), or email Emma Slyker (ekslyker@smcm.edu) if you would like a friend.

Jeff Bezos Promises $10 Billion to Climate Change

Written by Kristina Norgard.

On Monday, Feb. 17, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the debut of his Bezos Earth Fund via an Instagram post. Bezos shared in his caption of a picture of the Earth from a view in outer space, professing “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.” Bezos explained that the money will go to actual purposes that are actively working towards a greener future, “This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” The CEO seemed confident that if more people and companies other than himself contributed, that they could make a huge impact, “We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. I’m committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer. Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let’s protect it, together.⁣⁣⁣ – Jeff” 

This large scale recognition from the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world is a huge step forward in the climate change conversations happening around the globe. Bezos has lots of influence, as well as money, and because of that – it can give a lot of hope to those who are deeply concerned about the current environmental state of the planet. The fact that Bezos is directly encouraging other companies and organizations to follow where he is leading is huge, as just by being a rich and successful man, lots of other business owners, big or small, look up to him. Although he can be incredibly controversial on multiple fronts, if this is legitimately going to help the planet, this was a really good step in the right direction. Billionaires have no reason to have as much money as they do. If Bezos can convince other billionaires to do the same as him, we might have a shot at saving the planet. Bezos stated “it’s going to take collective action.”

The keyword here though is action, not a philanthropic monetary donation. As money is necessary and does help a lot, it is not the same, but is akin to “thoughts and prayers.” Jeff Bezos owns a company that contributes greatly to the Earth’s current state. Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate on Twitter) took to their platform to express how they felt about Bezos’ benefaction and promise. “We applaud Jeff Bezos’ philanthropy, but one hand cannot give what the other is taking away.” The employees of the company worth $160 billion questioned the business’s ethics and past decisions, “The people of Earth need to know: When is Amazon going to stop helping oil & gas companies ravage Earth with still more oil and gas wells? When is Amazon going to stop funding climate-denying think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and climate-delaying policy? When will Amazon take responsibility for the lungs of children near its warehouses by moving from diesel to all-electric trucking?”

Amazon, like many other companies, contributes greatly to the destruction of the planet. Bezos’ pledge, along with his actions, makes us question what the right answer – for every company and person to do next? It seems as though we are putting one step forward, but how many steps are we also taking backward?

Blind and Lost Whales: Solar Storms interfering with Gray Whale Migration

Written by Maeve Ballantine.

If there is one topic that continues to fascinate humans, it is the study of what happens in outer space. There is still so much of it that we have not explored. Even the parts we are familiar with continue to show us new and incredible feats that we would never have thought possible. However recent studies have shown us that certain solar patterns may be disrupting the lives of organic creatures on earth, namely the migration patterns of the gray whale.

Scientists have concluded that gray whales, who have the longest longest yearly migration traveling between 10,000 and 12,000 miles, rely on their heavily amplified senses to pick up on magnetic fields on Earth. This is what helps them find where they need to go to escape the colder weather. However, solar storms are shifting the currents of Earth’s magnetic fields. A solar storm is made up of large amounts of energy particles that burst from the sun in a mass of solar energy towards earth. This massive burst of energy and radio frequency is what disrupts the magnetic currents on earth, thus throwing off the whales’ sense of direction. The high energy does not cause direct harm to the whales, but it throws off the animal’s migration, which can be extremely dangerous. It can confuse them and cause them to get lost and possibly stranded. If an animal that relies on sense rather than sight to migrate loses that sense, they can be wandering for a long time, possibly losing access to sources of food. Even greater danger is posed since the animals in question are whales. Losing a sense of direction for whales can mean ending up in a different location and if they are not careful, they can get beached. If this happens, there is little that can be done to help it, short of getting an entire group of volunteers to help move it which is hard to do on short notice. What is worse, if a large amount of whales are beached, there is no way all of them can be saved, even with a large group of volunteers. 

The most chilling part of this problem is that very little can be done to solve it. There are human causes to the difficulty of whale migration but the primary cause, the high amount of energy and radio frequency, is something that is out of human control. Whales are being stranded, getting lost at sea, and are in danger of dying and there is nothing humans can do about this. These solar storms are part of what makes outer space so fascinating yet also so terrifying. There is still so much about outer space that we are still oblivious to so many of its mysteries and this is one of the first instances of something in outer space having harmful effects to creatures on earth. We can observe but we can not control, which only leaves us with one, terrifying question: what can be done?

Democratic Primary Now a Two-Man Race

Written by Charlotte Powers.

On Tuesday, March 3, 14 states and the territory of American Samoa held their primary elections. Former Vice President Joe Biden won 10 of the 15 contests, Senator Bernie Sanders won four and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won American Samoa.

Biden demonstrated his strong support in southern states, winning Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Biden also demonstrated his ability to win in northern states, claiming victory in Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. Sanders showed more support in the west, winning in Colorado, Utah and California. Sanders also won in his home state of Vermont.

In each of these contests, the candidates are competing for delegates at the Democratic National Convention in July. A total of 1,338 were up for grabs on Tuesday, and a candidate needs 1,991 delegates in order to reach a majority at the convention. Biden currently leads the delegate count at 664, with Sanders close behind at 573. This gap is likely to close, as there are nearly 200 delegates that remain uncounted from California, where Sanders had a large victory. Overall, the two candidates are neck and neck in the delegate race. 

The primaries for the Democratic party apportion delegates proportionally, as opposed to Republican primaries, where the candidate who receives a plurality of the votes in a state receives every delegate from the state.

Following Biden’s dominant victory in South Carolina, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar suspended their presidential campaigns and endorsed the former Vice President. Many believe that the rallying of centrists around Biden helped his numbers on super Tuesday, especially in Minnesota, Klobuchar’s home state. 

Conversely, Senator Elizabeth Warren has received criticism over her decision to remain in the race despite her low national polling. Critics say Warren split the progressive vote between herself and frontrunner Bernie Sanders, which likely cost Sanders victories in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts and nearby Maine. Senator Warren fell to a distant third place finish in her home state of Massachusetts.

Following the results of Super Tuesday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Elizabeth Warren suspended their presidential campaigns. Bloomberg has since endorsed Joe Biden, while Warren has not yet made an endorsement.

The next set of primary contests come on Mar. 10. Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state will have their chance to make their voices heard. With such a close race, each vote matters now more than ever.

United States Signs Peace Agreement with Taliban

Written by Charlotte Powers.

On Feb 29, the United States government and Taliban leadership in Afghanistan signed a historic peace agreement that would withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months and put an end to the longest war in American history. This agreement comes after 18 months of negotiations between the two parties. Since the war began in 2001, more than 43,000 Afghan civilians and nearly 2,500 American soldiers have been killed.

There are four main points of the peace deal. First, the withdrawal of all American and NATO troops over the course of the next 14 months. Second, a guarantee by the Taliban that they would not allow extremist groups like Al-Qaeda to operate in territory that they control. Third, the start of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, set to begin March 10. And fourth, a permanent ceasefire in the country.

President Trump is confident that the Taliban will hold up their end of the deal, but is willing to use military action if they do not comply. “I really believe the Taliban wants to do something to show we’re not all wasting time,” Trump said at a press conference. “If bad things happen, we’ll go back with a force like no one’s ever seen.”

But one aspect of the peace deal is being contested by the Afghan government. As a condition for the beginning of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, the government must release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. In exchange, the Taliban must also release 1,000 of their own prisoners. However, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani announced that his government had never agreed to the prisoner exchange.

The Taliban have long referred to the Afghan government as a “puppet regime” that was installed by the United States after the 2001 invasion. A lasting peace in Afghanistan would require the two sides to come together. Al-Jazeera reporter Hoda Abdel-Hamid said of the accord, “Everybody would agree, ironically, on the fact that the deal between the Taliban and the US—as difficult as it might have been—has probably been the easiest part in trying to bring peace to this country.”

Some cracks are already beginning to show in the agreement. The Taliban announced Monday, March 2, that they would resume their offensive against the Afghan government, but not against American or coalition forces. One of the preconditions of the United States to sign the peace agreement was a seven day reduction in violence from both sides. However, there was no requirement for a ceasefire after the agreement was signed. The treaty only provided a framework for working toward a ceasefire. On March 4, less than one week after the agreement was signed, the US announced that it was launching a “defensive strike” against the Taliban. Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, tweeted Wednesday, “we will defend our partners when required.” Only time will tell whether this agreement will be a meaningful step towards peace, or simply another empty gesture.

SMCM Alumnus Runs for Baltimore City Mayor

Written by Truman Robinson.

Brandon Scott, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) alumnus is running for mayor in Baltimore City. Scott Graduated from SMCM in 2016 with his B.A. in Political Science. In 2011, Scott was elected to be on the Baltimore City Council, representing Baltimore City’s 2nd District. He is currently the youngest Baltimore City Council member at 27 years. In 2019, Scott was unanimously elected to be President of Baltimore City’s Council and has been serving since. During his time as Council President, he has fought for a higher living wage and police reformation as chair of the Public Safety Committee and a member of the Budget and Appropriations and Judiciary and Legislative Investigations committees. 

Scott announced in September 2019 that he was running for Mayor of Baltimore City. He is running on a liberal, grassroots platform. His main goals are to build upon the accomplishments that he and his team have made in the last nine years. Those being Open Data programs, Whistleblower Rights and introducing bills that close loopholes for lobbyists to give gifts to political campaigns. 

On his agenda, Scott is trying to pass Bill 19-0451, which would set in motion a crime reduction plan orchestrated in part by the major chiefs in fire control, law enforcement and states attorney office. On his campaign page, brandondforbaltimore.com, he says that “The Baltimore Police Department cannot be expected to reduce crime alone. Every city agency has a role to play in addressing the disease of gun violence in our city.” 

Also on Scott’s agenda are plans to strengthen an already enacted Gun Offender Registry to protect against illegal uses of assault weaponry and lowering the number of guns sold to minors. On his campaign page, he notes that most illegal firearms are brought in illegally from across district lines. So by enacting plans to stop guns before they get into the city, Scott hopes to diminish unregistered gun violence. Along with this multifaceted plan, Scott also plans on strengthening a cross-agency response to violence and restricting “Tough On Crime” laws. With this agenda, Scott would open plans for rehabilitation and recovery for victims of gun violence. 

Scott’s campaign is also fighting for more money for public schools and youth athletic programs. Bill 19-0331 would cover the safety training and equipment for schools and athletic programs. The bill would require schools to enforce proper safety training and ensure that schools and sports organizations have proper funding and equipment for their students and athletes. 

The Baltimore Sun released new polls that show Brandon Scott polling in second place at 9%, behind former city mayor Sheila Dixon who is polling at 14%. However, Baltimore voters should not read too deeply into the polls, because they also show that 40% of voters are undecided. Baltimore residents will choose the Democratic mayoral nominee in April. Once nominated, the Democtratic mayoral candidate is expected to become mayor.

Political and Economic Dysfunction in Hati

Written by Colin Sweatt.

On Feb. 23 off-duty police officers and the Haitian Armed Forces entered into a six-hour gun battle in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, which left two dead and dozens wounded. The police, demanding higher wages, unionization and better working conditions, have poor relations with Haiti’s newly reinstated military. 

Haiti’s justice ministry released a statement in support of the military claiming that police actions on Sunday were “an attempted coup d’état.” Additionally, the Haitian Armed Forces stated that armed police officers attacked the military headquarters of Haiti. 

The Haitian government formally disbanded the military in 1995 after an attempted coup, an action that the armed forces had resorted to many times in the past. Under Michel Martelly’s Presidency the military was formally reinstated in 2015. The already underfunded police saw this new armed body as an unnecessary money siphon meant to secure the power of Martelly.

Although Martley’s tenure ended in 2016 human rights groups and opposition party members still fear the power of the military under current president Jovenel Moise. Haiti has a history of dictatorial executives. Since Moise can’t get the Haitian Parliament to approve his prime ministers he has appointed them through executive decree. From 2017-2020 Haiti has had three prime ministers. Additionally, Haitian elections were postponed indefinitely in 2019 so most legislative seats are invalidly filled because the occupants’ terms have ended. 

The instability in Haiti is not just confined to politics. Due to the dysfunctional policing of Haiti Pierre Esperance, the executive director of the Haitian National Human Rights Network, stated: “gangs control two-thirds of the country and today are better equipped than the police.”

Banditry has increased throughout Haiti as armed gangs now routinely hijack vehicles transporting goods. This situation has caused consumer goods shortages throughout the country and a spike in blackmarket activity. 

The increase in violence and political instability has scared away foriegn investors. One of Haiti’s main exports is textiles and before the recent instability the industry was expected to add 300,000 jobs but now the sector is shrinking by 58,000 positions. 

Domestically, Haitians do not have spare capital to spend on goods, let alone to invest in enterprises. Around half of Haitians are farmers and many are having trouble buying seeds for the next season according to US News. About two thirds of Haitians are unemployed or underemployed and with economic projections predicting a recession until at least 2021 the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. 

The president of Haiti’s Industrial Association, George Sassin, said about Haiti’s situation that “the consequences of the current crisis are even worse than the embargo, an earthquake or several hurricanes, because we are talking about a breakdown of the state.” 

Violence and increasing poverty have also decreased tourism, a major industry in Haiti. The armed conflict in Port-au-Prince led the government to cancel Carnival. Additionally, protests unaffiliated with the police are common throughout the country as anger at President Moise’s perceived corruption and economic failure has spread. 
It is unlikely that Haiti’s new prime minister, Joseph Jouthe will be able to solve the deeply embedded and interconnected crises facing Haiti. In his first speech as prime minister Jouthe stated that “we’re living today in a very precarious socio-economic situation which could lead at any time to a humanitarian disaster, our country is in agony.”

Russia and Turkey Call Ceasefire in Syria

Written by Charlotte Mac Kay.

A ceasefire between Russia and Turkey in the Syrian province of Idlib went into effect Friday morning, March 5. The agreement puts a pause on three months of intense conflict which has left nearly one million civilians displaced and dozens of soldiers dead.

The Syrian conflict has been an ongoing nine-year crisis, but the situation between the Turkish, who support Syrian rebel groups, and the Russian government, who support Syrian President Bashar Assad has escalated since late December of 2019. Idlib has especially become an area of conflict as Russian troops have advanced, seeking to destroy the remaining rebel strongholds in Syria. The conflict has displaced over 900,000 civilians in the last few weeks, leaving families without shelter or food in the winter months. As the conflict has intensified, airstrikes and severe bombing have carpeted the region. A deadly airstrike on Feb. 28 killed 34 Turkish soldiers and a series of retaliatory bombings killed dozens of Syrian soldiers.

After this increase in violence, a ceasefire agreement was reached between Syria and Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered the agreement on March 6, after a six hour phone call. The ceasefire went into effect at 12:01 am local time on March 7. The agreement establishes a one mile security corridor both north and south of Syria’s M4 highway, which has become the center of recent fighting and will be patrolled by joint Russian and Turkish troops during the ceasefire. After announcing the accord, Putin said that it could “serve as a good basis for ending fighting,” but Edrogan emphasized that the Turkish army reserves the right to “retaliate with all strength against any attack” from Assad-supporting forces. Both countries, however, have highlighted their strong relationship beyond the Syrian conflict, with Erdoğan saying Turkey would “not allow the forces of the regime to harm our relations with Russia.” Despite supporting different sides of the conflict, the two countries have worked toward developing a growing trade relationship. 

International and humanitarian groups, however, have expressed concerns that the ceasefire will not last. The United Nations (UN) has stressed the importance of getting more aid into the region and working to mitigate the humanitarian crises in the region. “We do hope that this will hold. That is the most important thing for the children and for their families. We need to have a cessation of all hostilities and we need it now,” The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund’s executive director Henreitta Ford told The Associated Press on Friday. The UN has appealed for further involvement in Syria after the ceasefire, stressing the importance of getting aid to the “most vulnerable.” They are especially interested in further access to Idlib and Northeastern Syria, where the refugee camp al-Hal is hosting another 60,000 individuals, including over 28,000 children and numerous victims of the Islamic State. In the same interview with the Associated Press, Ford said that the UN is “continuously asking for access. We are asking that every country repatriate the children and their mothers.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that the ceasefire has brought relative calm to Idlib. However, political officials in Turkey, Syria and Russia say that the ceasefire may only be temporary, depending on international relations and on the extent of Assad’s interest in reclaiming the remaining rebel territory in Idlib.