Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Eid without ceasefire; ceasefire without Eid | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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I do not think there is any convergence or possible compromise between the Bashar al-Assad regime and its opponents.

I still believe that any local, regional or international mediator, even one with the stature, weight and experience of Lakhdar Brahimi, will not be able to surmount the chief obstacle in the negotiations, namely al-Assad’s lack of desire to offer any political concessions.

The Syrian regime is against any form of compromise because it views what the opposition is doing as terrorism and sabotage, and accordingly: how can the regime negotiate with terrorists? On the other hand, the opposition views the al-Assad government as a violent and murderous regime that practices state-sponsored crimes and tyranny against its own people. According to this logic – which in my opinion is absolutely true – sitting down at the negotiation table with such a regime is a waste of time and would only serve to politically promote this criminal regime.

So, we are now facing a situation where it is impossible to enter into negotiation so long as all parties and trend remain present on the scene.

There is only one serious future for negotiations, and that is if one party makes radical changes in its position. In this case, this party that must change is the regime! In other words, serious negotiation will not be possible between the two extremes of the struggle in Syria as long as one side is represented by the al-Assad regime.

The Syrian opposition is prepared to negotiate with any of the pillars of the Syrian Baathist Party, and it does not decline to engage in such dialogue under the pretext that it is the ruling party. Rather, the opposition had stated that it does not want to commit the mistake made by the Iraqi model, namely rejecting any dialogue with the ruling party and the ensuing Debaathification process. This was based on foolish advice from former Governor of Iraq Paul Bremer.

So, now we are faced with an equation based on the following principle: dialogue is acceptable to the Syrian revolution factions, provided that the dialogue does not involve the al-Assad family or the pillars of the security regime whose hands are stained with the blood of the martyrs.

If Lakhdar Brahimi’s greatest ambition is to convince al-Assad of committing to a ceasefire during the forthcoming Eid al-Adha holidays, then he is confronting – following his visit to Damascus – the effects of the “political stubbornness” of the Syrian President, which is something that al-Assad has always exhibited. I do not know who is the political genius who convinced the Syrian President to adopt the principle of “reject, reject, reject and persist in rejecting any settlement until you ultimately get what you want!”

Such futile logic cannot push Syria or the region a single step forwards towards reaching a comprehensive political solution. If Lakhdar Brahimi left Damascus yesterday with the least hope of securing even a limited ceasefire in Syria, he must also be aware that Syria has begun an even fiercer war in Lebanon.