Those under no illusion about potential international solutions to the Syrian crisis, whether military intervention, increased military support for the rebels, or even the mobilization of the Turkish army, should also not expect much from the meeting of the UN General Assembly, currently being held in New York. Indeed, we should not entertain any illusions for another 40 days.
Why? The answer is simple. In 40 days it is the US presidential election, and then everyone will know which way the political compass is pointing. Whether the current President Barack Obama is re-elected or the winner is the Republican Mitt Romney, the result will have many implications. Of course, then it will no longer be a question of will al-Assad survive or not, but rather it will be a question of how the Americans choose to deal with him, at all levels. The tyrant of Damascus is aware of this matter himself, and therefore he allowed the recent internal opposition conference to take place, and his foreign affairs spokesman has begun to talk about the difficulty of the situation, stressing that dialogue is the solution. For the same reason, we find that the pace of the al-Assad regime’s violence and lies has also increased, for al-Assad is racing against time, specifically the remaining 40 days until the US elections.
This is the reality today, and nothing will change unless the rebels make a breakthrough on the ground to alter the current equation, or the al-Assad regime commits an act that truly shakes the international community. Yet the international community has so far been unmoved by the alarming crimes already committed against the Syrians. Things could also change if there is a new development in Israel and Iran’s current game of action and reaction, but other than that no one is willing, or able, to act now towards the Syrian issue. Despite all the French attempts to resolve the situation, diplomatically and militarily, the French and sometimes Turkish proposals are constantly being ignored by the Americans, for no one in Washington wants to embark on any sort of venture now at this stage in the race for the White House. As I mentioned above, Bashar al-Assad and his allies, specifically the Iranians, are acutely aware of this, as are the Russians. However, they are also aware that if Barack Obama is re-elected for a second term the price on al-Assad’s head will be far lower than it is at present, because then, i.e. after the US elections have been resolved, all options will be on the table. President Obama will no longer need to worry about timing and will not want to repeat the al-Assad experience again.
Despite all this, all the friends of Syria cannot simply stop and wait for a period of 40 days. They must continue to support the Syrian rebels with money and weapons, for the simple reason that the al-Assad regime will not stop using further violence, just as Iran will not cease its financial and military support, and therefore the Syrian rebels’ position on the ground must be strengthened. We cannot allow the rebels’ to deteriorate even for one moment, especially as al-Assad is trying desperately to regain control of Syrian territory.
There are 40 days left, and no doubt it will be like 40 years for the Syrians. Yet this is the reality, regardless of what comes out of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, and regardless of what Lakhdar Brahimi says!