In Hangzhou, there is a ‘solution’ for Syria
Statements made following the meetings of G20 leaders in Hangzhou promise a ‘solution for violence’ in Syria
Statements made following the meetings of G20 leaders in Hangzhou, China, promise a “solution for violence” in Syria. This new term is neither a political solution nor a reconciliation among Syrian powers, but a bandage for a crisis that is bleeding dangerously. US President Barack Obama said Russia is the key to achieving a solution.
How will this “solution for violence” work? Can they confiscate the rifles of hundreds of thousands of armed men? Can they dismiss fighters like they do in regular armies? Is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ready to leave power? Without political arrangements that answer these difficult questions, violence will not stop just because Obama agreed on it with Russia.
If what we hear is true, this solution is based on accepting the Syrian regime’s governance despite five years of murder, destruction and displacement. The armed Syrian opposition has been used by the forces of countries fighting there. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was used by the US to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Turkey is using it to fight Kurdish groups in the north.
Down but not out
The situation of the Syrian resistance is difficult, but it is not defeated. Tens of thousands of Syrians chose to confront Assad’s forces, Iranians, Russians and militias, and are still fighting to defend their cause and people. If they had not fought, the regime would have extended its power to most of Syria, as foreigners who have joined terrorist groups are estimated at 5,000.
Despite setbacks, whether due to decreasing support from allied countries or due to the closing of borders in the north and south, the Syrian resistance is still fighting fiercely. The regime has not succeeded, even with massive support from Iran and Russia, and despite international and regional pressure on the opposition.
We are hearing about promises of a new solution only because the US wants to end violence without solving the problem, like an ostrich that buries its head in the sandAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The war is still raging in most of Syria. Neither peace nor defeat looms on the horizon. We are hearing about promises of a new solution only because the US wants to end violence without solving the problem, like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand.
Obama’s presidency ends in 12 weeks, and he wants to end violence in any way.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are staying. Putin and Khamenei want one thing: to subjugate the Syrians. What they can agree on is fighting ISIS and its terrorist sisters, granting Turkey the same right to fight Kurdish groups that are hostile to Ankara and giving up on the Syrian opposition without a change in political stance.
The proposed solution is an escape from reality, and makes them feel that the Syrian cause will gradually fade away and eventually end. They think summing up the crisis as “violence” simplifies negotiators’ task. However, it will result in imposing Assad as ruler all over again - even though he murdered half a million of his citizens and displaced 12 million - and in granting Iran power over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 6, 2016.
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. He tweets @aalrashed