By: Sudhanshu Tripathi, Ph.D
The on-going violent situation in Syria is going to worsen either because of more and more violence due to fearful fight between rebels and the Syrian forces or because of Assad’s fall as a result of forcible US led western power’s intervention. It will prompt Radical Islamists eagerly waiting to fill the vacuum so created, thereby, forestalling the onset of democracy as the Arab Spring desired in the past and so the West desires today.
The coming days for Syria and its King as well as President Assad appear as final game for fight to finish because there is no end to the continuing turmoil because of the fierce fighting between rebels and the regime forces. In fact, Assad’s repeated failure to implement his promised reforms and, instead, taking recourse to repression, leading to gross abuses and violations of human rights and fundamental freedom have further aggravated the already volatile and tense situation in Syria. The almost daily massacres of scores of people by both the rebels as well as the Assad’s forces do pose a challenge to individual and collective conscience not only in Syria and the Arab region but also the whole world: how can one remain silent in the face of such events?
It is, perhaps, such unfortunate and fateful developments that have compelled, though ostensibly, the US led westerns powers and their regional allies to ensure either complete surrender of the Assad’s regime or to fight a decisive battle, howsoever, bitter the end may be. As a matter of fact, their interference into the sordid affairs in Syria is not due to their honest intentions emanating out of their voice of conscience to permanently resolve the dispute but more due to protection of their self-interests defined as so-called national interests because the case of Libya is still fresh in our memories.
US Hostilities towards Iran and Syria
This was clearly visible at Geneva wherein one of the principle stake-holders, Iran was deliberately kept out, perhaps, to forestall any likely peaceful and political solution which may give some respite to President Assad in return for implementing his promises of reforms. And that would have kept the Syria- Iran relations on sound footing and, therefore, was not acceptable to them. The US’ intention is particularly hostile as there are latest reports of the Americans consulting Israel about the future of Syria after the President Assad has departed.
As it is that Israel would appear to be willing and prepared to live alongside a radical, Muslim Brotherhood-Al Qaeda regime next door, so long as Iran loses its most influential ally in the region; it still will have Iraq as an ally. Further, today, President Obama has also cleared his secret help to the Syrian rebels. Evidently, that closes all prospects towards arriving at the door of “political” solution, whatever they still may be as the real target is Iran.
Political Solution Possible
But is it really too late to try for such a political solution? Is it not worth considering a formula whereby all the parties – the regime, the rebels, principal stakeholders which include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and others, P-5, Iran, the UN, the Arab League etc.- are brought together face- to- face with Assad or his deputy in an effort to hammer out an acceptable solution to all? Perhaps, the anti-regime players, by announcing at the very beginning of the revolt some 18 months ago that Assad had to go, made the ostensible search for a political solution unconvincing. So have the western powers and their regional allies made their intentions clear that they will not settle for anything less than complete surrender and perhaps a trial for crimes against humanity either in Syria or in the International Court of Justice. But what are the prospects of such one sided western agenda and who will be the real beneficiary of such on-going mayhem?
Obviously, little as the western agenda led resolution in the UN Security Council has already been jointly vetoed by Russia and China, thereby blocking the prospects of the emergence of any global consensus over Syria and, consequently, triggering off more violence with the war spilling over to the neighbourhood and also beyond. Similarly not the Syrian populace in whose name the war is being fought! Indeed, the prevailing pogrom will certainly benefit the Radical Islamists who are used to such quagmire and are always on prowl to grab political power where ever possible. Is it the solution that the US led western powers desire from the international community to expect?
Options Before King Assad
Against this backdrop, what are the options before King Assad? Either he should step down and seek asylum elsewhere or continue fighting till the end howsoever violent or fearful that may be. But there is another option too which he himself had promised to his countrymen: to proceed honestly with his promises and forcibly close all doors of external intervention by any power what so ever. However this is not so easy to execute given the issue of hard national interests of outside powers: their requirement of energy and massive investment into the region.
This very much holds good for the western powers and their heightened surveillance activities in and around the region. But the principle of no interference by outside powers as outlined in the UN Charter, still holds good today and that requires considerable mobilisation of diplomatic support by the Assad regime against the combined awesome might of the western powers and the rebels. Although looks impossible, yet it is really not very difficult for Assad as there are many supporters in the region like Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has thousands of missiles aimed at Israel and also Hasan Nasarallah who has pledged support to Mr. Assad besides Iran, where Malliki is openly supportive of the Assad government due to sectoral affinity.
Also major powers like Russia and China are in favour of him for their otherwise realpolitik motivated position which is that any regime change must happen solely as a result of an agreement among the people of the country and outsiders should have no say into it. And this, in fact, is the very principle which will certainly hold a common meeting ground for other major prominent powers of the world like France, Germany, Japan, and India along with several other countries in the world to rally behind King Assad. After all, he has the right to rule as long as long as he is acceptable to them. It is now crystal clear that the rebels are not operating of their own because they are actively getting support from different corners and their intervention is only making the matter worse. But they are not clear about the future of the post-Assad Syria.
Evidently, such situation will be utilised by the Islamic elements in their interests closing forever the future of democracy in Syria for which western powers particularly the US, ostensibly, aspire for.
Under this scenario the international community should unite to ensure a peaceful solution to the present crisis in Syria by immediately halting the on-going violence by both sides and thoroughly restraining all outside interference into Syria. India, as a founder member of the Non-Aligned Movement, should mobilise such like-minded countries, particularly Russia, Iran and China to work seriously for resolving the differences between the rebels and the President Assad, who in turn, should implement his promised reform proposals in light of broad consensus in the larger interest of Syrian people. A monitoring agency from the United Nations should supervise all these peace and humanitarian operations under the direction of the UN General Assembly, not the Security Council.
About the author: Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi is an Associate Professor of Political Science based in India. Click here to mail him.