Is There an End in Sight to the Syria Crisis?

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Syrian refugee women prepare their regional dishes at Caritas Lebanon Immigrants Centre in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on November 6, 2013. (Photo: AFP - Joseph Eid)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Monday, November 11, 2013

Signs of a qualitative shift in the balance of power in Syria favoring the regime are accumulating by the day. The question now is whether the warring parties can succeed in managing the next phase of the crisis, which could lead to a settlement.

No one is talking about the downfall of the Syrian regime these days, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and its Salafi militias. Today, the slogan of the countries and opposition groups that struggled for nearly three years to topple Bashar al-Assad is “regime change,” with the more sensible elements among them calling for a reconciliation that could lead to a partnership of sorts.

But the question remains: Will the warring parties be able to take advantage of the changing military and political terrain to reach a resolution that could end the conflict?

On the regime side, the mood is unforgiving and may very well harden as its military and political advances accumulate, as has been the case over the past year. It’s enough for Assad to see that efforts to topple his regime failed, despite the fact that a vast front of powerful forces from around the world – with the help of a sizeable section of Syrians – came together to accomplish such a goal.

It’s hard to convince Assad today to go back to the first year of the uprising, as if nothing has changed. Just as elements of the opposition insist that they cannot talk to a regime that has so much blood on its hands, Assad too says he has little faith that a lasting deal can be struck with those who sold out their country to the highest bidder.

In fact, Damascus finds itself in a relatively strong bargaining position compared to the increasingly fragmented opposition. The state of the regime today is such that it can maintain the current status quo for years to come – perhaps even making additional gains at the expense of its opponents – and thus burying the notion of removing Assad once and for all.

Much of the opposition, on the other hand, is seriously handicapped by a persistent misreading of the situation on the ground, choosing to put all their faith – and the fate of those Syrians who supported them – in the hands of foreign powers that have repeatedly failed to deliver on their grand promises. Today, this section of the opposition is begging its overseers for a seat on the negotiating table.

There is however another element of the opposition, which may not have the same popular weight as the more opportunistic currents, but does retain a high level of credibility for its principled positions against foreign Western intervention and the involvement of the reactionary Gulf kingdoms and emirates in the struggle against the regime. Here, we are talking about what is called the nationalist or internal opposition, led by the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB).

But the NCB, too, is in need of a major review, be it in its reading of the situation on the ground or in the methods by which it conducts its work, without compromising its consistent demand for real change in how Syria is run. Such a review would help improve the chances of an internal resolution to the crisis over an external one.

It is not enough for this part of the opposition to blame the foreign-controlled elements for failing to topple the regime, or to harp on the way the authorities conducted themselves in dealing with the crisis. The NCB and its allies must find a way to expand their influence and build a broader base in light of the changing circumstances.

In turn, this could convince disillusioned members of the opposition to reconsider their positions and join forces with the NCB, thus boosting the chances of the Syrian parties navigating their way to a reasonable settlement that could put an end to the river of blood that has been spilled by both sides of the conflict.

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

The only respect that should be accorded to Bashar Assad is to presume his innocence before trying him of war crimesand crimes against humanity. The question is not whether the warring parties can succeed in managing the next phase of the crisis, which could lead to a settlement. But how any country could deal with a mass murderer as a "head of state"

1. Stop using the word "regime" - It is NOT a regime. It is the GOVERNMENT. Learn the difference and stop with the insulting western style propaganda.
2. What you call 'militia's' are MERCENARY TERRORISTS. Use the correct terminology. It might bring home to those Middle East leaders and their western masters - including Israel that they are breaking international law by bankrolling, training, arming, supporting, hospitalising and providing free passage of TERRORISTS to kill Syrians.
And yes, the western masters did apparently fail on the promise to bombard yet another middle east country, balkanising it into weak sectarian factions fighting each other - no doubt to the delight of Israel and those who would plunder the wealth and sovereignty of any nation supporting Palestinians or opposing Israeli aggression.
But my question to these middle east leaders : How can you be such craven cowards and backstabbing fools? Yesterday it was Gaddafi - who warned all of you that your turn would come, the day before it was Saddam, today you join those western powers in trying to make it Assads turn.
Who will it be tomorrow? Bandar bin Sultan made to take the full blame for the joint Saudi America trickery of the Ghouta gassing?
Erdogan next for allowing terrorists free passage back to Europe?
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for the Qatari slavery and perhaps their French-joined hand in blocking the Iran deal?
My point is : You are all backstabbing fools - and should afford President Assad the respect of dropping the term 'regime', acknowledge that there has been an invasion of Syria by mercenary (Wahhabi) TERRORISTS - and stop supporting traitors and puppets!

Excellent comment. For these guys,to be coward will Never stop. The day the al Qaïda will say"now it is your turn"these guys will run as réfugies to Canada or us with the cash and screen "Kill Assad!".

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