Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

‘Talk’ of a Solution in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Reuters

Hearsay on Turkey being inclined towards accepting Bashar al-Assad’s stay as Syrian head of regime, without any effective authority, for another six months seems unfeasible. Chiefly because it was the same proposal that was already accepted by a score of countries backing the Syrian opposition, among which was Turkey I believe, about a year and a half ago which was completely refused by the Russia-backed Iran.

However, the initiative remains viable, and reflects the current status quo of the battlefield. The proposal would only be put forth after the regime being effectively caught up in a corner.

Representing a mediocre solution, the proposal would come to halt all maneuvers and buy time. At the time, Iran and Russia welcomed the idea of an all-encompassing regime and announced receiving opposition delegates as to scout for conventional solutions.

Nonetheless, within a few months later, both Russia and Iran stepped up the armament of Assad forces, drowned Syria with Iraqi and Afghani armed militias, Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units and Hezbollah militants—Hezbollah militants partook in the Syria war early on.

At the time of the proposal, ISIS played a dangerous game which further ruined the situation, setting the Syrian Opposition off course and marring its reputation with acts of slaughter and arson which targeted Kurds and foreigners.

ISIS, targeting opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) locations which it had secured over the past two years of its war with Assad’s regime, had dramatically effected the Syrian opposition.

Also playing to the Syrian arena, Russia effectively targeted Turkey, trying its best to keep it out of the Syrian conflict.

Russia’s attempts eventually translated into the political solution being rendered unnecessary for the Tehran axis. The regime-supporting parties by then believed that the FSA and the Syrian opposition had been weakened on a military level and that Turkish influence was disengaged.

Moreover, the West was hesitant in supporting the change in Syria for ISIS reasons, especially with legions of refugees overrunning Europe in numbers considered the largest to enter the continent without permission since World War II.

Despite the frequent setbacks, the world firsthand witnessed that Assad’s regime, despite all the support it received- like a cancer patient- is unable to achieve a full-on landslide, nor is it able to sustain or manage restored territory.

The regime seems to be worn out, both on a managerial and a military level; most importantly, still is detested among a majority of Syrians.

Russian air power, Iranian ground troops and Hezbollah, Iraqi and Afghani militias all were unable to control battlegrounds like Aleppo, despite the great destruction inflicted.

Assad’s allies pay both in blood and money, and are well aware today that victory is a far reach, and fully understand that the cost of continuing to support Assad will take long, hence draining on their capacities.

Given that the solution helps Assad-backing allies walk out with integrity and assure a majority of their best interests are left unharmed; will that, however, be enough to let go of Assad? I do not believe so, monocratic forces tend to give a great deal of importance to political calculations, determinate to win rather than striking a balance.

When Assad is given the chance to remain Syria’s temp President with no authorities, till elections take place for a full and swift political transition and the birth of an inclusive government comprising opposition and regime forces, it is perceived as a great compromise on the opposition’s behalf. The entirety of political transition and solution is conditioned by Assad’s eventual step down.

Taking into consideration that none of the two parties are able to settle the war, the proposition remains feasible.

Should the opposition concede to anything less than Assad’s leave, then it would be a sugar-coated defeat.

We know that the opposition faces tremendous pressures by its supporters, given that they are pressured themselves.

On the other hand, two key players, Russia and ISIS namely, had added to the war partially crossing Syrian borders to Turkey. The country now witnesses a series of terrorist attacks which have affected each of its tourism, trade and stability.

I do not believe that Turkey or Gulf countries could approve to bowing down before Iran and Russia in Syria matters, since the consequences are beyond the Syrian crisis itself. The sole remaining solution is for the Syrian opposition to be bolstered immensely, thus striking a balance.