Brokering peace for Syria

A political resolution is the most important step to stabilising Syria.

11 December 2018 | International

Following eight years of civil war with more than 400 000 dead in Syria, the ninth round of Astana talks between Turkey, Russia, Iran and the Syrian government and opposition members have yielded tangible results in pushing for a political solution. Undertaking to hold the next meeting in February 2019, Russia, Iran, and Turkey said the meeting, which included representatives of the Syrian government and opposition, made great strides in realising a political solution for the country.

In a joint statement, the countries said they “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”

Furthermore, they “underlined their firm conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be resolved only through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council resolution 2254.”

Simply put, Syria is a mess and there are far too many boots from too many countries, official or otherwise, on the ground. Russia, thus far, has been very effective in creating some form of stability by getting rid of terror groups and insurgents and restoring order in a bid to create the correct atmosphere for political change, at the will of the Syrian people.

It is chaos on the ground. Turkey is fighting the Kurds in Syria, Israel is bombing Lebanon, also in Syria, and the origin and pay-cheque master of the so-called White Helmets remains an open mystery.

That the West has had an interest in Syria is an open secret. Declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents indicate that as far back as 1986, there was an interest in overthrowing the Syrian government by provoking sectarian tensions. The conclusion drawn is that American needs would be “best served by a Sunni government controlled by business-oriented moderates” and furthermore, that such “a government structure would precipitate a strong need to Western aid and investment”.

The CIA continued by saying that while Sunni “dissidence” had been at a minimum since Assad's crackdown in the 1980s, “tensions lingered, keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flare-ups of communal violence” and moreover, “excessive government force in response to these disturbances would serve to facilitate even larger protests by Sunni groups”.

The events of 9/11 gave further impetus to Western military involvement in the Middle East and elsewhere. According to the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark, Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary of the United States in 2001, had a plan which was laid out in a memo. Clark told media that “this is a memo which describes how we are going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran”.

The US is in a bit of a pickle now. Russian military intervention has all but downed Islamic militants and the US has no real reason to remain behind, save to assist its long-term ally Israel in maintaining control of the Golan Heights, or, fresh water.

Russian intervention in Syria had one goal: Restoring order for the country's legitimate government to pave the way for a political resolution and elections that reflect the will of the people.

There was another chemical attack, this time with chlorine shells, on 25 November in Aleppo. The scale of the injuries, anywhere between 70 and 107 civilians, indicates that terror groups in Syria have secured chemical weapons.

According to Syrian expert Salah al Hashawati, the chemical attacks in Aleppo indicate the US intention of continuing to achieve its goals in Syria. Syria has an extremely advantageous geopolitical position, so Washington won't retreat so easily, he said.

“The Americans want to make Syria a headache for Russia,” Salah al-Hashawati told Sputnik, “according to this scenario, the crisis there should be permanent, like an open wound”.

Moreover, Tehran's role in stabilising Syria will add impetus to Western interests and may cause US allies to deploy their troops to Syria.

In the meanwhile, Russia has been providing military, political and humanitarian support to Syria with the country receiving more than 80% of Russia's total humanitarian aid.

Its total share of aid reached 84% of the total volume of Russian humanitarian aid, which in value terms amounts to US$19.6 million, just over twice that granted in 2016.

The Kremlin says it will continue to broker a tangible and long-lasting solution to the Syrian crisis, working now on a political solution with conflict on the ground relatively under control.


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