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Opinion: Who will fall in Syria’s fourth year? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Soldiers from forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad attend a rally supporting him and the army in Damascus February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA – Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST)

As the Syrian revolution enters its fourth year, the question remains as to whether President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime will exit power or whether it will finally be able to eliminate the opposition and subjugate the majority revolting against it.

The enormous number of daily battles across Syria certainly shows that three years of suppressing the Syrian people has not yielded results, despite the support the regime used to enjoy.

Two years ago, Assad was trying to buy a few weeks to control some areas rebelling against him. At the beginning of last year, he agreed in principle to negotiate over a new government in order to buy more time.

Then, when the deadly gas attack happened in the Ghouta area of Damascus, he rushed—relying on Russian and Iranian guarantees—to make a proposal to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal.

The proposal was also a way for Assad to stave off US intervention and buy more time to finalize the battle in his favor.

Despite all the time, weapons and experts he has bought, and despite having deprived the armed opposition of advanced weapons, Assad has still failed to tighten his grip on Syria.

All he has succeeded in doing has been to destroy the country in a manner conveying hatred and rancor. We now enter the fourth year of the most ferocious war to topple a regime the region has ever known.

Half of the Syrian population is now displaced, while the number of those killed has reached the hundreds of thousands.

At the same time, the battles are ongoing around Damascus. The regime has consumed the time it bought to get rid of its chemical arsenal. It will either wither, exposed without its chemical arsenal, or it will continue to stall in order to gain more time and thus embarrass the United States and probably place itself under the threat of NATO firepower.

So what about the international supporters of the opposition? Do they have the enthusiasm, capability and tolerance to arm the Free Syrian Army (FSA), aid millions of refugees on a daily basis, and engage in political battles against Assad and Iran in international arenas?

Those parties that believe in the opposition and support the Syrian people—particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—are still committed to their stance. These countries realize the threats posed if the opposition were to be abandoned.

They do understand that if they were to do that it would mean the victory of the Iranian regime in the region as a whole. They are also aware that the tragedy will expand if they abandon their role in aiding the regional struggle, which needs to be brought to end.

As the opposition enters another year of suffering and indecisiveness, the burden increases on the FSA, the opposition Syrian National Council and other parties raising the revolution’s flag.

Unfortunately, these are the weakest parties in the Syrian crisis. They are still weak, divided and incapable of controlling their own structure, and continue to engage in their own internal power struggles. The opposition’s struggles have also stirred clashes among the sponsoring countries.

The opposition also bears some responsibility when it comes to having weak global political support, after stirring fears and worries regarding its abilities to manage the liberated lands, people and resources.

Criminal parties such as the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), infiltrated the opposition as a result of its rivalry. These criminal groups have served the interests of the regime, threatening minorities and terrorizing most people who revolted against Assad’s authoritarian regime only to find a group that was no less evil.

In all cases, Syria today is not as it was yesterday, and it will not be like a future Syria. The country’s situation has changed forever.

Assad and his regime are part of a history that has been decided no matter how hard he, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia try. We hope for less pain and for a quick transition. Unfortunately, the world insists on prolonging the bloodshed, pain and brutality.