'The Five Star Opposition'
"We are approaching a new phase in the Syrian crisis. By all indications, it does not appear as though what is being called “Geneva II” will produce a quick solution to the conflict.
At best, the conference will represent an acknowledgement on the part of the opposition that Bashar al-Assad cannot be toppled, and in turn, the regime will demonstrate its willingness to negotiate with those who have influence over armed groups on the ground.
That the meeting will not produce a quick settlement is due to many factors, the most important of which has to do with the fact that the balance of forces in the fighting has turned dramatically since preparation began to hold a second round of negotiations in Geneva...
In addition, the opposition is having a hard time – both on the political and military levels – to coordinate their efforts and unite around a set of demands. This is compounded by disagreements and tensions among those countries backing the opposition.
Those following the battles on the various fronts report that armed groups are in a state of disarray, accompanied by growing discontent among those living in opposition-controlled areas, who have grown intolerant of the fighters’ more unsavory practices, such as looting and kidnapping or imposing a radical version Islamic law.
The armed opposition factions continue to fantasize that the West is on the verge of throwing itself into the fray and ending the war on their behalf. They simply refuse to believe that their regional and international backers are doing all they can to support them.
For a year and a half now, the opposition has been campaigning its powerful allies to intervene directly in the war, either by sending troops or by creating a no-fly zone. And while oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar spent millions of dollars funding the opposition, their media outlets worked around the clock – with the help of the Turkish and Jordanian intelligence services, among others – to encourage defections from the Syrian armed forces and other state institutions.
On an international diplomatic level, Washington, London, and France left no stone unturned in their attempt to censure and sanction Damascus, even though most of these forces know that UN Security Council resolutions and unilateral sanctions have a limited impact on the regime.
Despite all such efforts, the regime remained largely intact, with its armed forces suffering few, if any, major defections of note. Worse yet, a significant portion of the Syrian people remained loyal to the regime throughout the crisis, with many who had previously sympathized with the opposition returning to the loyalist camp.
It’s unclear what makes so many in the opposition continue to believe that the West is willing to intervene on their behalf. They don’t seem to realize that any such step could easily spark an open-ended regional war, something that Washington and Europe have no appetite for at this time.
Geneva II is nevertheless an important undertaking for the Syrian people who understandably want the bloodbath to end. Unfortunately, the time for a solution is not upon us yet."