Wednesday, November 14, 2012

'Same Ol', same Ol''

[Guardian] "... The Syrian opposition has a new leadership ................There is no clear sign that this body of civilians, many of them exiles, will be able to win the allegiance of Syria's silent majority, deeply worried at the destruction of the country and still undecided whether to cast its lot with the embattled regime or risk an unknown future with the rebels.
An even bigger challenge for the coalition is whether it will be able to command and impose its will on the many armed groups who are fighting and dying in Syria itself. Of these, the most lethal and determined consist of jihadis or Islamic holy warriors, both Syrian and non-Syrian – some with ties to al-Qaida, responsible for some of the most destructive suicide bombings in Damascus, Aleppo and elsewhere...
This is not the end of the new coalition's problems. It will now seek to form a transitional government in the hope of winning international recognition and support. Stealing a march on the US and Britain, President François Hollande said this week that France would recognise such a government as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. He also said that France would "study" whether to arm the opposition. He added, however, that France could not consider military intervention without the authorisation of the UN security council.
This highlights the real problem facing the Syrian opposition. From the very start – when its main institutions were the Turkey-based Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army – it placed all its hopes on a western military intervention on the Libyan model.
The Libyan precedent seems to have led the rebels astray: they were certain the US and its allies would spring to their defence and bring down Assad as they had Muammar Gaddafi. They were encouraged to think so because they were convinced that the western powers – and Israel – wanted to destroy the Syrian regime in order to weaken and isolate Iran, and reduce Syria's ability to project its influence into Lebanon through Hezbollah, and into Gaza through Hamas..... From the start the rebel strategy was to press for foreign intervention.....
The prevailing mood in the US is to withdraw from Middle East conflicts, not to get sucked into new ones. France, which has been verbally bellicose towards the Syrian regime, is already committed to providing logistical support to a west African force that is hoping to oust Islamic fighters and Touareg rebels from the vast empty wastes of northern Mali, seized from the government. The coming war there could well tax French resources.
So what does the future hold for Syria? It seems likely that the US, Britain and France will opt for what might be described as "intervention-lite"; that is to say, they will arm the rebels while their secret services will do what they can to sabotage the Syrian regime and encourage defections.....
This policy can only prolong Syria's agony. It will also undermine the peace efforts of the UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, as well as some recent sensible suggestions by Russia and China. The west cannot pay lip service to the notion of a ceasefire while arming the rebels. What the international community should be doing is imposing a ceasefire on both sides while pressing them to come to the table to negotiate a peaceful transition – even if this means negotiating with Bashar al-Assad himself. To demand his departure as a precondition for talks is unrealistic. ..."

No comments: