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Syria and the Geneva conference

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The road towards Geneva has become less precarious than it used to be, however, there are still battles to fight. A series of important events will address the Syrian crisis in the coming days. The first of these events is the G-20 Summit that will be held on Thursday in Russia’s Saint Petersburg. The U.N. General Assembly will begin its discussions in a week and the Saudi delegation has begun its campaign to issue a decision against the Assad regime. Additionally, in two weeks the American Congress may vote in favor of an attack against Assad’s forces to punish them for using chemical weapons.

The Syrian crisis worsens with time, on ground as well as in international arenas. It is no longer easy to ignore it. The U.N. repeats its warnings that the crisis is now out of control as one third of the Syrian people left their homes and more than five million have become homeless. Shelters in neighboring countries are overflowing with refugees and relief organizations, which have been providing aid to millions of needy people for around two years, have ran out of stocks.

In addition to the humanitarian crisis, political risks linked to the fighting in Syria increase with time. Lebanon is engaged in a sectarian and partisan confrontation as a result of what is happening in Syria. These clashes are the first of their kind since the civil war that ended twenty years ago. The Turks are trying to control their border areas which are threatened with further disturbances. Iraq transferred most of its forces to its borders with Syria after terrorists returned to those areas and after the spill-over of violence increased.

Moving forward

Luckily, the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army managed, during a short period of time, to achieve progress with regards to political harmony and attained support in quantity and quality. The Syrian and Arab political opposition achieved success in this regard. The question is, what negative and positive outcomes does this alignment have? Syria has become the world’s cause and not just the Syrians’ cause alone. This responsibility prevents the regime from imposing war or imposing the solution it wants. Geneva, the proposed peace conference, has become a good option amid the recent political and military developments. It is probable that it will be held in the Fall, upon reasonable conditions that end Assad’s hold on power and hand over governance to the opposition.

In addition to the humanitarian crisis, political risks linked to the fighting in Syria increase with time

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

It is no longer possible to address the previous proposal of a political solution, based on participation between the Assad regime and the opposition, for a transitional phase in Syrian politics. The Russians and the Americans have realized the impossibility of accepting this poisonous proposal that may only result in more fighting. A number of Syrian powers and Arab governments worked to make it fail. The possible, and the reasonable, solution is Assad’s exit from power, the maintenance of the state’s large institutions- including the army, handing authority to the opposition and achieving a national reconciliation. There will be no place for Assad and his leadership in the new Syria. Both the armed and political wings of the Syrian opposition can no longer be ignored, and holding reconciliation efforts without the opposition’s approval is no longer possible. Arab governments in support of the Syrian people have the upper hand against Assad’s allies. Therefore, the Geneva meeting is a solution which comes during suitable military and political circumstances.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on September 4, 2013.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.