Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Syria and the Idea Aiming to Halt the War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There isn’t a decisive winner or loser in the Syrian crisis which has become out of control and transnational. In a world that is supposed to be governed by norms and international laws, this weakness and failure has pushed the superpowers to what we see them doing today – negotiating a “non -solution”.

As soon as I saw the pictures of the Syrian regime’s delegation at the door of the negotiating hall as a full team, and the opposition’s team an acceptable group made up of individuals who previously opposed its formation, it was not difficult to conclude that these negotiations would not produce a real result or end the war.

As for how the mediator succeeded in convincing the two adversaries to sit down together, it appears that his skill lies in the idea. Each party was convinced to engage in the negotiations meetings by being told that they would not be forced to do something they did not want to. In exchange, they would agree to a series of measures including a ceasefire and allowing humanitarian aid in.

The mediator succeeded in stopping the fighting, or reducing its severity. Some prisoners were also exchanged and aid was delivered to those blockaded on both sides. To UN mediator de Mistura’s credit, these are important achievements but they are not a solution and will not lead to a solution.

In order to convince the Syrian regime’s delegation to go to Switzerland and participate in negotiations, the delegation was told that the removal of Bashar Al-Assad is no longer a US requirement. The opposition, on the other hand, was told that the Russians were not opposed to them governing. It is for this reason that the initiative succeeded. However, in my view, the negotiations will not solve any problems because there isn’t a major plan that can end the crisis.

Mediators may suggest the idea of restructuring the system again, according to which Assad would remain the president of the country but would not have executive powers, and the prime minister would be a member of the opposition with broad powers. This is similar to the Iraqi model designed by the Americans in Iraq. Of course, no one believes promises, especially the idea that Assad would be satisfied with protocolic powers.

In these negotiations we see radical changes in the ideas put forward. The first idea was that Assad should give up power completely. Later, it was suggested that Assad should leave completely after a transitional period of eighteen months and elections to form a hybrid regime would be held. Finally, it was suggested that the criminal, Assad, and the victim, the opposition, would govern together.

There have also been proposals to divide Syria completely but they were rejected by Syrians and a number of countries in the region. However, the division of Syria would not be easy to implement even if it was decided on. Recently, the federal solution has been proposed quite a lot, but I do not know how that would suit the current situation. Stability in Syria is a requirement for federalism, and it is no longer a state of institutions. A federal solution would benefit the regime as it needs internal administrative arrangements. However, it would not benefit a country where there is infighting.

Is it possible to achieve any of the above solutions, assuming that superpowers may support them? Those who know the nature of the conflict realise the impossibility of a solution that includes both Assad and the opposition. The opposition may be able to be part of the regime’s hierarchy if its senior leaders, specifically Assad, are not involved in it. Syria is not Yugoslavia and cannot be divided according to its ethnic components within the borders of the country because they no longer live there.

If the negotiations are a distraction to stop the war without a solution, then the conflicting parties will not remain busy with negotiations for long, and the fighting will resume.