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Opinion: Syria and the Road to Geneva II - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The road to Geneva II has become far less precarious than it was before, however we are still facing a number of difficult battles. A series of important events over the coming days are set to address the Syrian crisis, including the G20 summit that will be held on Thursday in Russia’s Saint Petersburg. The UN General Assembly will also begin its deliberations on Syria in one weeks’ time, while the Saudi delegation has already begun its campaign to push for a decision against the Assad regime. In addition to this, the US Congress will also vote on a possible military strike to punish the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons next week.

The Syrian crisis is worsening as time goes by, on the ground as well as in the international arena. It is no longer easy to ignore what is happening in Syria. The UN continues to repeat its warnings that the crisis is spiraling out of control as one third of the Syrian people have been displaced, while more than five million have become homeless. Refugee camps in neighboring countries are overflowing while relief organizations, which have been providing vital aid to millions of destitute Syrians, have run dangerously low of supplies.

In addition to the humanitarian crisis, the political risks from the fighting in Syria continue to rise as time goes on. Lebanon has become embroiled in a sectarian and partisan conflict as a result of what is happening in Syria. These clashes represent the first of their kind since the Lebanese civil war ended more than twenty years ago. As for the Turks, they are trying to keep control of their border areas which are under the threat of further destabilization. For its part, Iraq has deployed the majority of its forces along its border with Syria after terrorists returned to the region, resulting in greater incidents of violence.

Luckily, the Syrian opposition, including its military-wing—the Free Syrian Army (FSA)—has been able to achieve military progress on the ground, in addition to strengthening political unity and securing qualitative and quantitative support. This success can be traced back to the efforts of the Syrian and Arab political opposition. However, the question that must be asked here is: What does all of this progress and development actually mean?

Syria has become an international issue; it is no longer about the Syrians’ alone. This responsibility is preventing international governments and regimes from resorting to war, or imposing whatever solution they want. The proposed Geneva II peace conference has now become an excellent option following the latest political and military developments in Syria. It is probable that Geneva II will be held sometime this autumn—so long as reasonable conditions are met—ending Assad’s rule and handing over power to the opposition.

It is no longer possible to countenance the political solutions that were proposed previously, based on joint rule between the Assad regime and the opposition during a transitional phase in Syrian politics. The Russians and the Americans have realized the impossibility of this poisonous proposal being accepted, particularly as even if it did come to pass, it would only lead to more fighting. A number of Syrian forces and Arab governments have made sure that this solution is no longer viable. As this juncture, the only possible and reasonable solution is Assad’s exit from power, the maintenance of the state’s vital institutions—including the army—and authority being handed over to the opposition. Only following this can Syria achieve national reconciliation. There is no place for Assad and his regime in the new Syria. Both the political and military wings of the Syrian opposition can no longer be ignored, and it is not possible to carry out any national reconciliation without the participation of the opposition. The Arab governments that are supporting the Syrian people now have the upper hand, when compared to the Assad regime’s own allies. Therefore, Geneva II will certainly enjoy favorable political and military conditions.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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