Crisis in Syria will continue, al-Assad will stay

تم نشره في Tue 8 April / Apr 2014. 07:13 PM - آخر تعديل في Tue 8 April / Apr 2014. 07:52 PM
  • A handout picture released by SANA shows mainly Syrian youthas they rally in the capital Damascus, on April 7, 2014, on April 7, 2014, to mark the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the Baath Party (AFP)

By Fahed Khitan 

In a closed dialogue session, a senior Western diplomat asked a question, leaving the audience to think about the answer: If the priority in Syria is to fight the threat of terrorism, is the interest of the West and Syria’s neighbors to have a strong central government in Damascus, or divided entities across the country?

The question comes in the context of the ongoing discussions in the decision-making circles of Europe and the U.S., about how to behave with the Syrian regime in the event that Bashar al-Assad ran in the upcoming presidential elections and won, which is certain.

There has been no conclusive evidence so far. But it feels like a dilemma. It is likely that Western countries will not recognize the results of the elections, especially the United States. However, ignoring the facts on the ground seems a bit nihilistic in the eyes of some Western diplomats.

During the next phase, the United States is considering supporting the opposition with light weapons, which analysts confirm aims to keep it afloat, and not to overthrow the regime. At the same time, strengthen these groups in the face of extremist groups; ISIL and al-Nusra.

But Washington and opponents of the Syrian regime’s dilemma in the region remain in place; how do we behave in the first day after al-Assad’s win in the elections?

You cannot, of course, imagine conducting free and fair elections in Syria, in the absence of fair competition among the candidates, and the lack of international control mechanisms. Add to that the deteriorating security situation in parts of Syria, and how the participation of millions of refugees has been made impossible.

If the Syrian regime was able to maintain its ground gains and expand it after the elections, it would give the elections and President-elect greater legitimacy that is difficult to ignore.

Some of those close to Arab and Gulf regimes, especially, believe that the leaders of these countries might review their position after the elections in Syria, and give in to the status quo. This belief seems strange and unlikely, but in politics anything is possible.

In the West, the approaches are usually more pragmatic. It is certain that al-Assad will not be legitimately recognized by the West, but might get security cooperation to cope with what has become a common enemy for both sides; terrorist groups. In the political field, some Western powers may show more flexibility when it comes to the transition process in Syria, and accept the resumption of the Geneva negotiations without preconditions, specifically the requirements regarding al-Assad fate during the transitional phase.

On the ground, the situation will not be that different; whether the elections were conducted or not, whether al-Assad won or continued in power without elections.

The conflict in Syria has taken a bloody and tragic character with no apparent end in the horizon. Whether the West accept the fait accompli or maintained its position against the Syrian regime, the only truth is that al-Assad will remain, and the war will continue in Syria.

@fahed_khitan

 

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.

Comment