Syria: Way to Peace

On March 21, 2012 the UN Security Council unanimously (all 15 members) approved a statement on Syria that is to facilitate the crisis solution. The statement is a six point proposal emphasizing a ceasefire by both sides, a pull back of Syrian army from populated areas, the continuation of UN intermediary mission headed by Kofi Annan, a start of political dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition. The statement was worked out together with Russia, Kofi Annan and the League of Arab States and then agreed on by representatives of the leading Western states and other UN Security Council’s members.

The Syrian leadership agreed to carry out the statement’s provisions, but the opposition represented by the Syrian National Council called it “a trick” giving Bashar Assad a chance “to gain time”. At the same time Syrian anti-government groups committed a number of terrorist raids, probably to exert pressure on the mission of Kofi Annan, who visited Damascus. An armed group attacked the Mezze district in Damascus, where a number of military installations are situated. Soon it was encircled and eliminated by government forces. A few terrorist acts – explosive laden cars blown up – took place in the Damask suburbs and in Aleppo, resulting in dozens of civil casualties.

The information war against Syria continues. The CNN and Euronews say the Syrian government forces, including army units using heavy artillery, attacked the opposition right after the UN Security Council’s statement was adopted killing 70 people. The reference was made to some mythical London-based “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” that has neither staff nor office. Naturally this piece of information has never been never confirmed. Looks like for he first time since the beginning of the Syrian crisis the Human Rights Watch had to say that the Syrian opposition was involved in “kidnappings, torture, forced confessions and summary executions of security personnel and civilians”. The fact many times confirmed by producing documented evidence by Damascus.

As a delegation member the author of these lines saw the pictures of mutilated bodies of Syrian servicemen, who died as a result of the tortures committed by anti-government militants whose ranks include Al-Qaeda’s “jihad warriors”. The Istanbul based Syrian National Council, no matter it acts under the NATO’s “cover”, could not offer anything that would resemble even a sorry sight of a program or whatever to make it look like a “legitimate representative of Syrian people”.

In February 2012 over twenty opposition leaders left the Syrian National Council and established their own body – the “Group of Syrian Patriots”. In March three more prominent opposition leaders joined its ranks saying they were leaving the Council due to “disagreements concerning its policies”. There is nothing to be surprised about: the Syrian National Council is a mixture of groupings and personalities – from liberal-democrats to Muslim brothers, from Kurdish separatists to radical Islamists – all pursuing different, often murky objectives. “Moderate” Muslim brothers and radical Islamists, the ones Syrian National Council’s chairman Burgan Galyun has rather tense relations with, are the most well organized elements. The fact that they managed to convince Abdo Hussameddin, Syria’s deputy oil and mineral resources minister, and a few high ranking military leaders (the Syrian official sources say the number is 2, the Syrian National Council says it’s twenty) to join their ranks can be considered as a relative success for the Council. Defector Hussameddin immediately demanded a top position within the Council’s structure and confronted its leadership. Syrian Brigadier-General Mustafa Ahmad Al-Sheikh, the other runaway who fled to Turkey, started another quarrel challenging Colonel Riyad al-Asad, who had joined the Council’s ranks before him, for the leadership of the “Syrian Free Army”.

With Homs and Idlib cleaned from anti-government armed groups, the Syrian army actually has eliminated the pockets of the organized resistance. Still terrorist acts (explosive laden vehicle blasts) continue. Militant terrorists go on crossing the Syrian boundary. They get funds and arms from the adjacent countries.

A former Al Jazeera reporter (Ali Hashem – OR), who has broken ties with the channel, says militants started to penetrate into Syria, from Lebanon in particular, in the first days of Daraa unrest in March 2011, that is long before the “atrocities committed by government” began. In his interview to Euronews, the journalist said he personally saw dozens of militants illegally crossing the Syrian border from Lebanon in March 2011.

Social, economic and political reforms are taking place in Syria now. According to new law political parties are being established. During our stay in Syria in January 2012 we had a chance to meet the representatives of some of them. They were Liberals, those who represented the Kurds community, the Leftists. They position themselves as patriotic opposition. Unlike the opposition based in Istanbul, they are ready for constructive dialogue with the authorities and have some proposals to put forward. A new constitution referendum took place on February 26, 89, 4% of the voters said yes. The new constitution says nothing about the leading position of the Baath party and contains all elements of a democratic state structure. New parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in May 2012. All registered political parties can join the race including the opposition abroad, that nevertheless refuses to take part. It should be made clear the present Syrian leadership enjoys mass majority support of the people (in Syria we could see the demonstrations in support of Bashar Assad with dozens of thousands participants).

Russia, China, the leading Western states and the Arab League joined together in support of the UN Security Council’s statement on Syria. The joint stance gives some hope for peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis. On the other hand the real state of things leaves no place for optimism. Those who signed the statement pursue different, if not outright opposite, goals.

The prevention of foreign military intervention, political crisis management by holding a dialogue between the leadership and the opposition, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria are the goals of Russia and Chinese diplomacy. By and large it coincides with the position of Iran, Lebanon, to some extent Iraq, Algiers, part of social and political circles in Jordan. The goals of leading NATO members and Israel are the elimination of President Bashar Assad, complete about face of the Syrian policy and finally the dismembership of the state. That’s the way to get rid of an ally of Iran and Palestine resistance, to create conditions for a military strike on Iran. The Israeli leaders have mentioned a possibility of delivering such an attack next month quiet often. At the same time it’s the way to weaken the Shiite influence in Lebanon and Iraq. That’s the reason the information battlefield warriors started to persuade the world that Russia’s signature on the UN Security Council’s Syria statement signifies Moscow’s change of position and its “distancing from the Bashar Assad’s regime”. It has no wish to become its Godfather, as the French Foreign Minister said. This is direct pressure on Russia to make “cede” Syria making it doomed to repeat the fate of Libya.

As we see it in the given situation, it would be expedient for Moscow and to ask explanations from NATO concerning the results of military intervention in Libya while preserving the same level of relations with Damascus. Libya is the country where the power has been transferred into the hands of radical Islamists, executions and torture take place (the Human Rights Watch doesn’t keep mum on it anymore), the Al Qaeda training camps are built, the country has become a source of instability spreading to other countries (it enough to have a look at the events in Mali). It’s not all. Armed struggle goes on in Yemen, the country situated in the vicinity of strategically important strait from the Red sea to the Indian Ocean. There President Ali Abdulla Saleh stepped down under the US led Western coalition pressure. But his departure never solved a single problem and the whole parts of the country have been gone under the Al Qaeda’s control.

If we let Bashar Assad be toppled no doubt Syria will become the second Libya. Libya, Syria fallen, the next “turn” may be post-Soviet space Central Asian states. Their “turn” may even precede the active phase of the plan to destabilize Iran and some African states south of the Sahara.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation 


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