With Regional Mediation Stalled,
By: Mohammad Ali Subhani Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).
To the beat of violent clashes plaguing Damascus and northern Syria, the Syrian crisis goes on and on.
About This Article
As long as the regional contact group on Syria — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran — continues to disagree on the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, the violence there is likely to persist, Mohammad Ali Subhani argues. He suggests that United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi use his peacekeeping experience in Lebanon to resolve the Syrian crisis.Publisher: Al-Hayat (Pan Arab)
Assad Deals Iran a Blow
Author: Mohammad Ali Subhani
First Published: September 26, 2012
Translated by: Naria Tanoukhi and Sami-Joe Abboud
Insurgents took control of a new crossing on the Turkish border, as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi visited Syria. Salehi arrived following a meeting of the Contact Group Quartet, which was held in Cairo, despite the absence of the Saudi minister for reasons yet to be known.
The meeting was held after Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi — speaking just before the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran — called on neighboring countries to resolve the Syrian crisis.
It is widely believed that Egypt is willing to play an influential role in the Syrian crisis. After all, Egypt is one of the states that were swept by the Arab Spring.
For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood, an influential political movement which entered the political sphere in several countries affected by the Arab Spring, is seeking to enter the Syrian arena and exert its influence. If Cairo realizes its goals in Syria, it will have achieved the ambitions of the Brotherhood, which is seeking to play a prominent role in Arab countries.
Egyptians are trying to appear as though they play an influential role in Arab countries after the end of the transitional phase. By involving themselves in regional crises, they will elevate their status in terms of regional public opinion.
The Turkish, Saudi, Iranian and Egyptian roles may spin the wheel of political movement, thus leading to a resolution for the crisis in Syria. Each of these four countries is working to increase its regional potential and preponderant weight, which they believe would make them eligible to become a major regional power. If the views of these countries converge, then a solution to the Syrian crisis can be found.
But the question is: What are the odds of such a project, and is it likely to last?
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey have common positions regarding the crisis, while that of Iran differs. All three countries are not opposed to the overthrow of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as they believe that the Syrian government lost its legitimacy when it adopted a policy of using violence against opposition groups. They also believe that the majority of the Syrian people do not support Assad.
It is no secret that these countries would support any plan that ensures Assad’s removal from power, and this is the main point of contention between them and Iran. The likelihood of the success of the Egyptian president’s initiative and the chances of bridging the gap between these diverging views depend on two factors: the three states' willingness to give up their positions regarding the departure of the Syrian president and Tehran's readiness to change its stance to align with that of these countries.
It seems unlikely that Assad and the Baath Party in Syria will agree to release their grip on political life and step down, even in the event that Iran agrees to the proposal of the three countries.
President Assad’s political discourse indicates that he is not willing to relinquish power at a time when his government is being accused of genocide. Some countries seek to bring charges of genocide against the Assad government at the Security Council. Such efforts have resulted in the suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Syrian government is seeking to change the international equation by taking advantage of Russia’s support for Syria in international organizations, and through strengthening the unity of the military and security institutions.
United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has extensive experience in handling crises. He has helped to resolve the Lebanese crisis and played a role in the conclusion of the Taif Agreement, which ended the civil war in Lebanon.
The chance to emulate the Yemeni model [of the handover of power from former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh] is declining in favor of the model that was established in Lebanon. In other words, it is unlikely that the Yemeni model will be applied in Syria, although civil war remains a high possibility.
The crisis in Syria will either end with an agreement similar to the Taif Agreement — i.e., a consensus by all parties on an agreement supported by the international or regional community — will continue as is, or will escalate as was the case in the Balkans. In the latter case, Syria would be divided into three states: Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish.
Many feel that it will be very difficult for conflicting Syrian parties to reach a consensus over a solution, in light of the rampant sectarian and ethnic atmosphere that prevails. Thus, it is hard to imagine Syria as a “unified entity,” especially in the Kurdistan region, which is seen as the main beneficiary of these developments.
Syria's Kurds are preparing for secession with the help and blessing of President Assad. He has helped facilitate the Kurdish cessation in order to punish Turkey. Assad and the Baath Party might even release the Kurds in Turkey, thus undermining the strategic interests of Iran and Turkey relating to Turkey’s [conflict with the Kurds].
The results of Brahimi's efforts remain to be seen. However, I cannot deny that I am not optimistic about the outcome of his efforts. The circumstances in Syria differ from those that existed in Lebanon in 1989. Brahimi has not proposed a new plan, and Kofi Annan’s plan is still the UN’s proposal to resolve the crisis in Syria.
Brahimi’s project may be different from that of his predecessor. Observers believe that it aims to stop the violence, preserve the unity of Syria and support the democratic process.
The outbreak of civil war in Syria will help to fuel a sectarian war in the region. The flames of war will not be limited to Syria, but will extend to the countries of the region.
|Back to news list|