By Gamze Coskun
Every passing day, the Assad regime is coming closer to a dead end in Syria. The regime is hedged in with the increasing external pressure due to the recent events. Thus, Assad and the supporters of his regime look for the solution in increasing the violence as they feel trapped. However, it seems that Bashar Assad’s regime is running out of time no matter what.
The regime’s bloody defense against the increasing anti-Assad protests of the past eight months consequently brought about the killing of around 3,500 Syrians. On the other side, the silent and nonreactive stance of international actors had been debated for a long time. And now the main concern is how the Assad regime will respond to the international public opinion, which openly shows its reaction against it.
As a result of the limited sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU, condemnations of the U.N., and calls for Assad to step down along with the decision taken by the Arab League on November 13, the pressure on the regime rapidly increased. With the decision approved by 19 members of the League (while Lebanon and Yemen voted against and Iraq abstained), time until November 16 has been given to the Assad regime, and it has been declared that the Syrian regime’s membership to the League will be suspended and economic and political sanctions imposed in case the regime does not stop its bloody attacks against the protestors. Following the decision, Syrian state television declared that Assad called the Arab League for a meeting at an urgent summit. The purpose of the summit proposal was to discuss the consequences of the ongoing protests and unrest in the Arab countries and the region. Therefore, it is apparent that Assad is still trying to legitimize and justify his regime and acts.
Turkey, on the other hand, supports all the implementations and announcements against the regime, which in turn responded with violent attacks against the Turkish embassy in the country by Assad’s supporters. At the same time, Turkish officials met with Syrian opposition and called for “unity against the Assad regime.” Yet, the Syrian opposition is still partially unable to create a common ground and speak with one voice. And unfortunately, this is one of the main reasons for the regime’s continuing capability of staying in power so far.
The Syrian National Council and National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, both of which were founded in September, have been important steps toward establishing a tangible organized formation against Bashar Assad’s authority. However, the inability of many other separate oppositional groups along with the aforementioned two main groups to act together in harmony as well as the Syrian elite’s adherence to the regime keeps on creating a living space—although it is shrinking with the increasing international pressure—for Assad.
In conclusion, the existing authoritarian understanding of the Syrian regime is dying in agony while it struggles for survival by brutally destroying its main cause of existence, its own people. Yet, it seems that the Assad regime’s continuing to shed blood is coming closer to its end. And in order for this process to be sped up, international pressure and people’s capability of determinedly speaking one voice without resorting to violence is of vital importance. In the case that all these conditions are fulfilled, there is no reason for the Syrian people’s demands not to be met.
USAK Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies