International agreements on Syria will prove worthless
Syrian conflict has taken another turn for the worse with belligerent parties indicating military solution as the only way out
The Syrian conflict has taken another turn for the worse with major belligerent parties indicating a military solution in the only way to end the fighting. For its part, the Syrian opposition has lost faith in the political process and in the promises of international negotiators.
The international community is expecting too much from the agreement between the US and Russia. This agreement is perceived by the international community as an agreement between two major powers who have concrete influence on the belligerent parties on the ground in Syria. Consensus is considered the key to upholding a ceasefire, truces and the political process in the country, even though it is not.
However, the US has had no influence on the opposition forces from the beginning and has no influence now as the opposition is not unified. The US has no capacity to impose its will on the Syrian opposition, give it orders or influence it in any other way. Russia also has no real influence on the Damascus regime, which has ostensibly put Russia in a hostage situation time and time again, breaking given promises and aggravating the situation.
Russia has, on numerous occasions, guaranteed the transition of the Syrian government to the international community. Shortly after those Russian statements, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered provocative and dangerously controversial speeches announcing that he would retake all Syrian territory and saying that he is the legitimate leader of Syria.
The Russian position
Russia cannot renounce the position it’s taken on the Syrian conflict and the Damascus regime knows it. It has a clear understanding that whatever it does, Russia will not change its attitude towards them. Regarding the conflict, Russia initially attempted to balance the situation both on the ground and at the negotiation table.
Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict with its air force two weeks before the fall of Damascus. The clumsy move was intended to balance negotiations and balance the situation on the ground but was immediately interpreted as blind support of the Damascus regime. The quiet voice of Russian diplomacy was hardly heard in the cannonade of the battlefield and in the media games traditionally won by the Western media.
Finally, we have ended up in a situation where Russia looks like a blind supporter of the regime, while it is actually a hostage of the situation and the extreme complexity of the crisis. Considered the perceived impotency of the major players, the only solution seen by the oppo-sition is to depend on themselves and on the power of weapons. The ceasefires will not succeed, no matter how strong the agreement between the US and Russia is, if they are not agreed to by all belligerent parties.
Taking into account the lack of sane evaluation in Damascus, its unwillingness to make com-promises and that the Syrian opposition now seems to be hostile toward any negotiation initia-tives, there is little hope for any peaceful settlement of the conflict.
The most important thing the international community should concentrate on is not the agreements between Russia and the US but how to encourage Syrians to trust in peaceful negotiationsMaria Dubovikova
Scenarios for the future
The potential scenarios for the future are dangerously explosive. At best, the country will end up being totally split, breaking into separate regions. This will weaken the region, pushing it toward further cataclysms and instabilities which will improve conditions for radical groups to flourish.
This would create conflict-prone situations on the borders of the neighboring countries and could lead to splits in other countries, ratcheting up blood-letting in the region.
In this case, global players will plunge the world into a new Cold War. At worst, the Syrian conflict could bring about a direct clash between the US and Russia in Syria. This would have unpredictable consequences, one of which could be a new world war. A lot will depend on the sanity and rationality of the president to be elected in the US in November.
If the current trend carries on, Syria is doomed to end up in complete catastrophe. The most important thing the international community should concentrate on is not the agreements between Russia and the US but how to encourage Syrians to trust in peaceful negotiations, a transition and in each other. Without this, any international pact is nothing but a groundless agreement between the mediators, not between the belligerent sides.
Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of For-eign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open di-plomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme