By: Tareq Azizeh
Syrians fold the last remaining days of a year of tragedies of killings, arrests, kidnappings, hunger, and homelessness. Lost in vain, it seems, are their sacrifices and the blood of their sons cashed in the banks of a dirty struggle for money, power, and influence carried in their name. The dream of change, and of building a modern democracy in Syria is becoming more distant by the day.
To say so is not pessimism; it rather is the truest characterization of the situation as it stands—a situation caused by several factors. In addition to the intersection of contradicting regional and international interests in Syria; there is the abject failure, fragmetnation, and clientelism of the Syrian opposition. Then there is the rebound of fundamentalist obscurantism mounting atop the suicidal option of militarizating the popular uprising, and the pursuit of its proponents for its Islamization, even before the end of the Revolution's first year. Consequently, the still ongoing disastrous regime, perched on Syrians' chests for more than half a century has, with unsurpassed cruelty, been able to withstand and win the battle for its existence.
Despite its continued swamping in the blood of innocents and the rape of their freedoms; the regime has, successfully, imposed itself as a key player not to be ignored, after passing its survival test. This is reinforced by the tyranny of the jihadist obscurantist theme over the majority of the active opposition forces fighting against the regime, and their undisputable control of virtually most areas beyond the regime's authority. Thus, the terrorist regime becomes an objective ally in the international coalition's war against terrorism!
Furthermore, the exacerbating differences between the various armed opposition factions, and poor coordination among the many fronts, have conspired to create a favorable opportunity for the regime; allowing it to make remarkable progress in a number of areas, such as the Homs countryside, Hama, and areas around the capital, Damascus. Several reports from Aleppo also testify to its success in encircling opposition control areas in preparation for a large-scale attack to recover them. This means, that despite the pressures faced by regime forces in Deir ez-Zour and Deraa, the outcome of field developments tend to favor it. This will also improve its bargaining position in any possible settlement.
The various parites toying with the Syrian situation and juggling the future of Syrians seem now to be coordinating their efforts to "rehabilitate" the regime for the coming period. Ironically, even those Arab countries most hostile to the regime, and nominally the greatest supporters of its opponents, have already begun to change their positions vis-à-vis the regime.
This is evident in a number of changes in the dealing of Gulf countries with Syrian affairs, signalling a prominent shift of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the raging war in Syria. The decision to reopen the Syrian Embassies in Kuwait and then in Riyadh—regardless of the "humanitarian" or administrative rhetoric of wishing to ease the living conditions of Syrians in these countries, whcih was given as an official justification—is not without clear political implications.
The Qatari Defense Minister's remarks before the NATO conference on security in the Gulf, also fall into this vein. In his remarks, the Minister stressed the importance of "preventing the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria, and drying up the sources of financial support for the terrorist Islamic State [ISIS], and other extremist organizations." He also talked about "the development of a clear strategy for restoring stability in Syria." Then, in contrast to previous Gulf meetings, which usually came out with sharp denucniations of the Syrian regime and the demand fo the departure of Assad; the last GCC summit in Doha marked a stressing of a political solution and a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
This Gulf shift coincides with the return of an active diplomatic movement in the Syrian file. The latest meetings of Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Bogdanov with the Turkish officials and a number of Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey are an example. This additionally included a meeting in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah. And finally, and most importantly, Bogdanov's meeting in Damascus with Assad, "to agree on certain issues with the legitimate leadership in Damascus," according to the official Russian expression.
The aforementioned prompts us to give credence to the fact that vigorous efforts are being made to create the atmosphere for a serious political initiative, bearing the features of a possible settlement. This, at the very least, aims to to make UN envoy Stefano di Mistura's plan—chiefly predicated on a plan to "freeze" the conflict, as a prelude to the creation of a negotiating environment—a reality. In order to achieve it, however, the existence of a firm conviction among the senior backers of the parties to the conflict of the impossibility of a final decisive military action, is necessary.
If the past three years has made the war in Syria an influential element in the balance of international and regional powers in the region; the compromise to end it would help shape the future, and the content of such settlement will help lay out the features of the next round of the chronic conflict for influence and interests in Western Asia. This is because none of those involved in the conflict, will be satisfied to walk out of the proposed Syrian settlement empty-handed.
* Opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Radio Rozana.