Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Is there a savior in Syria? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There are signs that the Syrian crisis has entered a stage similar to the last weeks of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, when the Libyan regime was being stubborn and issuing fiery statements, and then there was a sudden collapse as the rebels entered Tripoli and the pillars of the regime fled, ultimately concluding with the bloody end that we witnessed. The Libyan regime, if it had adopted political solutions months before, could have spared the country the bloodshed, turmoil and collapse of institutions that occurred, the consequences of which are still being felt today.

Of course the Syrian case is different, even if there are similar features in the sense that the scenario has shifted from peaceful demonstrations calling for freedom and justice to armed confrontations and the development of something nearing a civil war using heavy weaponry. The Syrian internal political geography is more complex, as is the regional political geography, including the regional and international stances that have made the crisis part of a larger struggle for which the Syrian people will ultimately pay the price.

Signs of collapse and the regime losing control have become clear, and when we watch the video clip of the regime’s aerial bombardment of a rocket battalion base near Homs, after the opposition claimed it had defected, we must all feel threatened by the path that this conflict could take, between a regime that remains stubborn and is desperate to stay in power without offering any genuine solutions, and an opposition that has proven over a year and a half that this uprising cannot be suppressed, and that it is impossible to return to previous conditions.

The new president of the Syrian National Council is saying that the regime is in its last days and has lost control of large parts of Syria, and this confirms the escalation that we see in military activity, such as the constant bombardment of Homs and even neighborhoods in Damascus, the return of clashes to areas that the regime has entered previously, and the Friday demonstrations where hundreds of thousands come out in unison despite the suppression and arrests.

It is strange that there is almost unanimous regional and international agreement that the survival of this regime has become impossible, and that regime change is coming sooner or later, but there is no clear vision on how this can be achieved, or how to shorten the timeframe so that the cost does not become exorbitant, whether in terms of the price paid by the Syrian people or the cost to regional security in the Middle East.

Perhaps more worrying for some external parties is the fate of the huge arsenal of conventional and unconventional weapons in the Syrian regime’s possession, and what could happen to them if Syria’s military units and divisions fragment and divide, as we are beginning to see. However, what is more serious than all this is the concern over the future of Syria itself, should the bloodshed continue and the violence keep escalating in this manner, with massacres being committed by militias informally affiliated to the regime, and the feuds and difficulties that will come later regarding future reconciliation and the rebuilding of the state.

It is clear that the world has been putting one leg forward and then one leg back in its dealings with the Syrian crisis since the beginning of the uprising, whilst granting the regime countless opportunities in an attempt to avoid the scenario that we currently see before our eyes. Yet there has been no response from the decision-makers in Damascus, and the regime has even dealt with UN peace envoy Kofi Annan’s plan in a disparaging manner, despite previously accepting it, and despite the fact that it could have provided a way out.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has compared the current situation in Syria to that of Bosnia in the 1990s and the civil war there, before the West intervened militarily against Serbia to stop the massacres. If we cast our minds back to the Balkan crisis, we would find that it ended with a number of new geographical entities emerging from the ruins of the former Yugoslavia. Is this what the regime wants in Syria, especially as talk has begun to intensify now about not ruling out the option of military intervention, the prospects of which are growing every day with the frequency of the daily killings? If this happens it will be a painful path, no one wants a civil war in Syria, or the state’s geographical unity to be torn apart and its institutions to completely collapse. This path is being prompted by the regime’s current suicidal mindset, and there does not appear to be a savior from within the heart of the state’s institutions with the ability and courage to take responsibility in the transitional phase, and oust the current leadership.