Syria is sinking deeper into uncontrolled chaos |
Gulf Today - 30 May, 2012
The US-led West was said to be working on a plan for a transition of power to end the bloodbath in Syria. The plan was said to be along the lines of the transition in Yemen which saw long-time strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down and his deputy taking over, with most of the Saleh regime remaining in position.
We have also seen how Saleh and his cronies have been undermining the new regime using their positions of power and how Yemen remains unstable. The battle against militants in the south of the country is only one part of the crisis. The real story is how Saleh, who harbours hopes of making a political comeback, is blocking effective governance by the regime which succeeded him.
In Syria, a Yemen-style transition is a non-starter because the 15-month-old revolt against the regime of President Bashar Al Assad has gone beyond the point of no-return.
The Syrian regime has survived the rebellion so far only because of its brutal crackdown on opponents. It also has the support of a good number of Syrians despite the bloodbath waged by the government security forces that have killed more than 13,000 people.
Iran, Russia and China have not only been blocking international action against the rulers of Damascus but also sending military and other aid to the Syrian regime in order to prop it up against the revolt.
The international community has been shocked by the massacre of more than 100 people, including dozens of children, in the town of Houla this week, but the UN Security Council is unable to take effective measures to pressure Damascus into stopping the bloodshed because of Russian and Chinese opposition. And Moscow has dismissed the idea of removing Assad from power.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also insisted on Monday that “both sides” in Syria’s conflict were responsible for the Houla massacre.
Equally importantly, he told British Foreign Secretary William Hague that Moscow was not interested in trying for a regime change in Damascus.
While Lavrov and Hague called for renewed efforts to implement UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, neither of them could propose concrete steps on how to achieve the ceasefire and troop withdrawals that it demands.
The central pillar of Annan’s plans is negotiations between the regime and the opposition on a political settlement of the conflict. However, the regime has not fulfilled the first phase of the plan that includes a ceasefire and withdrawal of government soldiers and heavy weapons to the barracks. It is also clear that the Damascus regime is determined to remain in power whatever the cost, even it means the death of tens of thousands more.
As far as the present course of events goes, it is impossible to see a political end to the conflict through diplomatic means.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey has said that the Defence Department is prepared to provide “military options” on ending the violence in Syria if diplomatic pressure does not stop the fighting. Surely, many scenarios are under consideration by the US and its allies.
It is not as if the options in Syria are either the success of the Annan plan or the Syrian regime overpowering the dissidents through sheer violence. What is on the cards is increasing chaos in Syria and the country moving close to all-out civil war and collapse.