Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Establishing a State that Suits Assad! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The latest declaration by Mr. Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, which held Bashar al-Assad’s regime responsible for obstructing the negotiations, does not rise to the level of crimes and serious incidents that have increased these days in Syria. What de Mistura is announcing is less than what is expected from the UN, its envoy, and from the great governments, as well as the Arab governments, which are concerned about what is happening from intentional sectarian cleansing, explicit demographic change, murdering and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians in densely populated cities.

His statements will also not ease shock over attempts to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power until his term ends in the spring of 2018. Keeping Assad in power invalidates the need for negotiations. He should be sued for war crimes rather than being rewarded by keeping him in power under the UN flag.

In 2013, the Syrians were told to wait a year until Assad finishes his presidential term in order to achieve change constitutionally. When the day arrived, he forged elections to become a president again, and he resumed his policy of murder and displacement. Now, the negotiation plan allows al-Assad to stay in power until the spring of 2018.

The Syrian opposition was asked to accept “upholding the regime” concept in order to avoid state collapse and not repeat the American mistake in Iraq. It said that it was willing to participate in a national unity government with the regime, but without Assad. Later, it was told to communicate and negotiate with the Russians to end the crisis. The opposition went to Moscow, yet they only heard threats; one of the participants there commented: “What is left in Syria for us to fear?”

Furthermore, when Washington announced its plan to fight ISIS, it requested the opposition’s help as a condition for political and military support, and the opposition accepted; nonetheless Washington did not oppose Russian or Iranian military intervention against moderate rebels. The two alliances’ only concern was how to organize aerial military operations in order to prevent clashes between them.

All what Syrians gained from military operations against ISIS were Russian attacks on civilian areas and an increase in Western aid, from blankets and food supplies for refugees.

This series of deceitful promises and impassivity will worsen the humanitarian tragedy and facilitate the spread of terrorism, which is growing fast due to void, chaos and anger.

Politicians are mistaken when they deal with the Syrian crisis as a mere extension of the intricate, straining relations in the Middle East. The Syrian crisis stands on its own, and is not part of the Arab-Iranian, Sunni-Shiite or Russian-American struggles.

Yet, none of that denies the fact that Syria has become an arena for multiple conflicts, but the roots of its crisis are local. The Assad regime resulted from the Cold War, and is affiliated with the Soviets. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it could neither change nor develop. Its situation weakened after the regime’s founder Hafez al-Assad died in 2000.

His son Bashar took over, but failed to manage the state, and in 2011 he was confronted with a popular uprising along with the rest of the military-security systems in the region, such as Egypt’s Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Gaddafi in Libya, and Saleh in Yemen.

The Arab-Iranian and sectarian struggles are direct repercussions of the regime’s collapse, and not the reason for revolting against it. Therefore, it would be impossible to leave Assad ruling unless Mubarak and Gaddafi rule again in Egypt and Libya.

In order to keep Assad in power, Russia and Iran have killed more than 300,000 people, displaced 12 million and destroyed dozens of cities. Additionally, they are now trying to establish a state whose ethnic components suit the capabilities of Assad, who belongs to a sect that only constitutes 10 percent of the population. What madness is that? How can the region’s governments remain silent in face of this disgrace and perilous tragedy?