Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Will a unified opposition plus arms equal success? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Doha exerted a great deal of effort, day and night, to convince the Syrian opposition factions to unify. Perhaps one of the most important conditions for unity is that the internal and historical differences between the opposition must not be a constraint and cannot stand in the way of coordinating efforts to oust the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The second condition is to agree upon a strategic vision for the post-Assad phase, and to answer the dozens of logical questions that require an answer now, explicitly and unequivocally.

These questions include: What are the features of the political system that will succeed al-Assad? What are its components, the method of choosing it, its program, its alliances, its ideas, its timespan as a transitional authority, its constitution? How will it deal with the forces of the old regime? How will it achieve security and stability? What will be the nature of its regional and international relations?

Other questions have a more specific nature, such as how will the new regime deal with Hamas, Hezbollah and Tehran?

The third condition relates to the relationship between the proposed opposition alliance and the armed resistance forces within Syria. Here other questions arise, such as what is the funding mechanism for these forces? How will they access finance and equipment? The British-American disagreement over arming the internal Syrian opposition is an example of this problematical issue. Britain seems enthusiastic about providing the opposition with arms via seaports, airdrops or across land through Jordan and Turkey, whilst Washington believes that any further armament would give Damascus the pretext to demand additional arms from Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, as well as to seek new political support from the Security Council. In response, the Gulf States have stressed to Washington that it is a moral obligation for the Syrian opposition to be provided with arms and logistical tools, so that they can protect themselves from Russian MiGs, missiles, and Iranian-made heavy artillery bombardments, which are targeting Syrian people and cities.

Here some final questions come to mind: Will the unification of opposition visions and trends, coupled with the resolution of the armament issue, be enough to ensure the end of the Syrian regime? Or does the issue require a stronger approach such as laying a marine, land and air siege upon Syria, and then launching strikes against specific targets?

Would Beijing and Moscow ever agree to this?

What is Tehran’s current stance towards the penultimate chapter in the overthrow of its ally Bashar al-Assad?