Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Ground Troops in Syria? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US accusations of Russia bombing a Syrian military base, which is supposed to be supported by Moscow to fight terrorist militias, reflects the chaotic situation Syria is dealing with these days.

The international and regional conflict in Syria and Iraq is expanding with the increasing number of foreign parties interfering to achieve their interests in these disintegrated and weak countries.

The Iraqi government’s reaction was unpredictable though, as it objected when Ankara sent hundreds of heavily armed soldiers to the city of Mosul, the birth place of ISIS.

The situation requires foreign help especially after the collapse of the Iraqi government forces fighting terrorism.

Fighting ISIS, preserving lands, helping refugees return to their cities and villages, calls for the necessity of ground troops have been reiterated for months now, especially after the launch of airstrikes. Recently, international parties have started proposing the international troops’ track. This started with Washington’s announcements that it would send tens of Special Forces to support the Syrian Opposition Forces in an advisory role rather than a combat one.

The sudden Russian intervention, weighing in heavier than expected, escalated events in Syria. The search for solutions accelerated, allowing a transitional period to occur in the presence of Al Assad so as to leave a circuitous door for the regime and its forces, thus facilitating the transfer into a new regime with a different leadership.

The Syrian crisis enters a detour, which might lead to a political solution or to unpredictable extreme chaos, with Riyadh’s Conference for the Syrian Opposition Forces being held before heading to Washington Conference. Tens of thousands of Syrians risking travel across the sea in search for a safe haven is a proof of this chaos, yet it will eventually lead to problems and disturbances within the European Union.

Ground troops can ensure a political approach towards the solution, and it is definitely preferable if the troops were comprised of Arab forces in agreement with the armed Syrian Opposition, similar to past experiences such as the Arab Deterrent Force, that with time turned the Syrian war as well as the Gulf War, and most recently the Yemen theatre.

It is the perfect solution, yet it faces acute difficulties, especially when it comes to finding Arab countries capable of sending troops, noting that in Syria’s case it would need to be composed of thousands in order for it to affect the balance of forces on Syrian grounds and establish safe zones. The contributing Arab countries must be able to coordinate with the Americans, the British, the French and the Russians at the same time, in addition to the United Nations for the sake of reinforcing international legitimacy. The coordination is to ensure these troops don’t find themselves hit by coalition planes by mistake, which could negatively affect the region, already susceptible to developing conspiracy theories by making them credible.

With all that mentioned, nothing is impossible, no one in the Arab world wishes for the bleak Syrian crises to prevail. The road towards a solution could be quickened only if there is a clear political and economic plan for Syria, post Assad’s reign; it should include financial securities to support reconstruction and has the capacity to incorporate everybody so long they don’t have blood on their hands. The Syrian Opposition has to help build this plan, and realize that a lot of deals are being brokered at the expense of the Syrian crises. They should aim for a political solution that guarantees militias leaving Lebanon and Iraq, and prepare a plan to rehabilitate fighters originating from all countries deluded by ISIS.