The terrorist attacks in Paris have further emphasized the importance of intervening in Syria and putting an end to chaos that is a threat beyond the Middle East. At the recent talks in Vienna, instead of proposing to resolve the Syrian conflict by intervening, the suggestion is for a perfect friendly political solution. Proponents of this must live in a fantasy world to believe it is possible in a country where more than 300,000 people have been killed.
The proposal calls for a gradual transition, reassuring President Bashar al-Assad that he will not exit power until after the implementation of several phases that may extend for a long time. Fighting will not stop until he steps down, but he may refuse to do so.
International intervention makes it possible to arrange for the return of refugees, support those in need, stop proxy Turkish-Saudi-Iranian clashes, and limit Russian and U.S. involvementAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Therefore, intervention is inevitable. The only acceptable intervention today would be that carried out under a U.N. flag, and in which most concerned countries participate militarily and financially. This intervention must establish a system that unites all the country’s components and parties, and must prepare for governance based on elections. An international war against terrorist groups in Syria must also be immediately launched.
Banishing Assad and all armed and terrorist groups may require a year or two, or more. Regardless, this remains the best and fastest solution compared with the Geneva and Vienna plans. International intervention makes it possible to arrange for the return of refugees, support those in need, stop proxy Turkish-Saudi-Iranian clashes, and limit Russian and U.S. involvement.
However, Western politicians are wasting their time. The Vienna meetings only prolong the extent and duration of threats. The number of those fleeing death and destruction has increased as a result. There are currently more than 12 million Syrians displaced! Thousands are trying to escape to Turkey en route to Europe, while many refugees have become easy targets for recruitment by terrorist groups.
All this amid a useless debate about whether Assad or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should be banished first. The regime, which is the enemy of most Syrians, is the cause of this war. It has become so weak that it can neither govern the country nor defend itself.
Militias that Iran has brought from Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon to fight for the regime have failed to win the war. Russia’s recent intervention in aid of the regime has only succeeded in increasing the number of displaced, as 250,000 Syrians have fled Aleppo and Hama. As the situation in Syria quickly deteriorates, Iran wants to prevent international intervention by wasting more time suggesting solutions that further complicate the crisis.
Controlling the situation has become an international demand. To control it, the international community must understand the importance of acting quickly to banish Assad and fight terrorist organizations at the same time. With the approval of such a solution, most of the region’s countries will volunteer to implement it alongside U.N. troops, as the United Nations can manage the situation in Syria until the transition to a new phase is complete.
Syria has become the biggest threat to the world. There have been explosions in mosques and squares in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey; the Russian plane bombing over Egypt; and most recently the terrorist attacks in France. Worse may be underway. It will be impossible to eliminate terrorism before ending chaos in Syria, and before returning the displaced to their homes and cities instead of looking for shelter for them in Europe and America.
Negotiators have lost their concentration due to their attempts to give warring parties the chance to suggest solutions that prolong the crisis. Even if negotiators listen to Iran’s or others’ solutions for resolving the crisis over several phases, they will fail because developments on the ground are quickly escalating and threats have extended beyond Syria.
The Vienna transition plan requires patience and time to implement, as well as the various parties’ approval to cease fire, which needs to be arranged and monitored. It also requires launching a gradual political process. Even if this is implemented according to a reasonable schedule, results cannot be guaranteed as Assad may refuse to exit power, in which case terrorist organizations will thwart all attempts to resolve the situation.
After the Vienna plan fails, negotiators will meet again to search for another solution. However, by then the world will have had enough as terrorism expands. Millions more will be displaced. In that case, everyone will accept international intervention - Syria would have been less tragic had this been accepted two years ago.
This article first appeared in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 18, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former 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
- Obama calls Putin a ‘constructive partner’ in Syria talks
- Suicide bomber passport ‘may have belonged to Syrian soldier’
- Russia, France hit ISIS’s bastion in Syria
- Vienna communiqué on Syria needs additions
- Births in Syria down more than 50% since war: media
- Kerry says Syria could be ‘weeks away’ from ‘big transition’
- Tunisia says it prevented major Islamist attack this month