Syria – Still a pawn in the hands of the powerful

Syria is back in the the headlines (not that it was absent in recent years) and the conflict has returned to the agendas of regional and global stakeholders. With the help of Putin and his regular and private military operations, Assad has regained chunks of the territories ceded in the prior six years.
An attack on the Idlib area seems imminent, which may produce new waves of migrants and possible new gas attacks. At this point in the conflict Russia remains supportive of the regime, Turkey is concerned because of the Kurdish role, and Europe is anxiously wringing its proverbial hands.

This week’s questions are: Do we have to accommodate to a lasting role for the Assad regime, forgetting about his war crimes or not, and accept that he will have a role in Syria’s reconstruction. Or should we deny this, keeping supporting the troubled and fragmented militias, trying to limit Russia’s and/ or Turkey’s influence? We can assume that U.S. and EU interference will be quite limited.

-Klaus Segbers

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  1. Alexei Voskressenski 7 days ago

    We all are interested in a stability in Syria and under present new economic and political situation should be above selfish political intetests. Russia alone can not help to stabilise the situation under Asad regime only and simultaneously reconstruct Syria after the civil war otherwise the Russian elders will be without any pensions at all and Russia will become like the Soviet Union. The U.S. and EU interference will be quite limited and there is an opinion within the UN that the help for Syria reconstruction may be only after the regime change. However if we agree that all are interested in a stability in Syria and the region we should find a certain consensus that may be the base for a future consensus on a broader set of iinternational issues needed to stop conflicts and controversies and start negotiations about the safer future. Thus, the possibility for post civil war coalitional government in Syria may be a solution.

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  2. Lwin Cho Latt 7 days ago

    Attaching their strategic interest, the involvement of great powers and regional actors in the Syrian crisis is huge. So, it might seem to me very difficult to predict the future of Syria: accommodating (I lose-you win) is diplomatically effective?, ‘forgetting’ principle should be the best conflict resolution?, and limiting the regional influence of Moscow and Beijing is possible?. Vetoing by Russia and China in the UNSC, its attempts to adopt resolution towards Damascus have been a failure forever. As long as Syria violates the western norms -- the human rights, Russian and China will go with ‘hand-on’ approach towards the Assad’s rule because of their similar HR considerations. Importantly, Iran will use all its resources in backing Damascus government not to have any political consequences on Tehran’s regime. Obviously, being a pawn makes Syria beneficial for continuous survival of the Assad’s regime.

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  3. Stephanie von Kanel 7 days ago

    This question has been at the heart of the international response to the Syrian civil war since its inception. It is no question Mr Assad would be in a far less powerful position if the Russian government had played a less prominent role in supporting his regime. This issue in part is that the forces supporting Assad are not all overt, and as such his power within Syria is dependent on multiple sources of support. It is difficult to predict his ongoing power without understanding his systems of support comprehensively. Without any direct and unified action from the international community against Assad and his allies, change seems a distant prospect. Though if Assad is to be exempt from his war crimes and allowed a role in Syria’s reconstruction, does that not send a message that all the energy and suffering of civilians and those fighting against Assad was ultimately for nothing? No, pardoning him is not the answer. Though sticking to current strategies seems unlikely to bring about the change so desired and deserved by the Syrian people. The Syrian civil is, and has always been, steeped in complexity.

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  4. Anastasia Wischnewskaja 7 days ago

    Syria causes a serious headache for the West because there are no “good guys” in the conflict. An interview where Volker Perthes – head of the German Institute for Foreign Affairs and Security Studies and THE German expert for Syria – struggles to say, what exactly “the moderate opposition” in the country is, went viral for a reason – there is no side the West could full-heartedly support, but only different types of terrorists and butchers. A military engagement under these circumstances would be hard to impossible to justify. Moreover, it has dramatically low support levels among the people and any democratic government that would decide to engage in any form that goes beyond limited bombardments and surgical strikes would be suicidal.
    Assad, Putin and Erdogan all spark a „A plague on both your houses” type of reaction and hard as it is, non-engagement might be the best form of engagement under these circumstances. What the West however should do, is grant as much support as possible to its Kurdish allies. The effort of Kurds in fighting Daesh has to be rewarded if we do not want to lose our credibility.
    A Kurdish state could be a second Israel in the region – a secular, reliable partner of the West. If we want to uphold our values, we should start doing so in cooperation with the least ambiguous partners in the region.

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