Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Don't waste your time with Syria! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

I do not think the Turkish-Iranian dialogue conducted in Cairo under Egyptian auspices will be of any benefit to Lakhdar Brahimi and his mission to settle the bloody conflict in Syria.

Here someone could say to me: The crisis in Syria has profound regional dimensions, meaning that dialogue between regional actors is an absolute necessity. Even if this meeting is unsuccessful, surely it will do no harm.

Yet the lesson one must learn from the art of crisis management is that there are substantial, fundamental questions that must be contemplated before a single step is taken in any direction. The questions are as follows:

1 – Are the relevant parties “aware” of the truth of the crisis?

2- Do the parties really “want” to resolve the crisis?

3- Can these parties afford to “pay” the bill of settling the crisis?

Here we are facing the trinity of awareness, desire and ability.

If this is the case, then without a doubt we have come to a complete impasse in the handling of the bloody struggle currently taking place in Syria.

The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “aware” of the crisis only from a unilateral point of view. His awareness is inflicted with megalomania and misconceptions based on an alternate reality that is completely detached from what is happening on the ground.

As for the “desire” to reach a settlement, the will is there, but only on al-Assad’s own terms. This means that the ruling regime would remain in power, whereas the opposition alone would pay the full price for what has happened!

Here we come to the last point; the ability of the relevant parties to reach a settlement. Let me ignore all logic, realities and facts for a second, and suppose purely theoretically that President al-Assad is “aware” of the crisis from a completely objective standpoint, and that he has a sincere “desire” to reach a settlement. Having taken all this into consideration, the question that remains is: Does he have the “ability” to do so?

The decisive answer is “no and a thousand times no”, because the decision is not in President al-Assad’s hands. Rather, it is in the hands of members of the al-Assad and Makhlouf families, senior figures in the Alawite sect, and the Sunni businessmen who adhere to the regime.

All the aforementioned have interests tied with the Syrian regime, and they will never let the opposition take over in its place. In fact, they would only accept change under one condition, namely that the current President al-Assad be replaced by another member of the same sect.

Therefore, regardless of Turkey’s regional role and its geographic sensitivities towards Syria, and no matter how strong the strategic alliance between Tehran and Damascus, Bashar al-Assad’s “awareness”, “desire” and “ability” are the decisive factors for any regional understanding.