Syria Needs To Change From Within – OpEd


By O. Bahadir Dincer

Syria is going through a tumultuous process. It seems like the Assad regime has been stuck in an ever-shrinking trap. The level of violence has increased with the statement of the Arab League giving Assad time until November 16. Assad’s attitude toward what has been happening is of great importance in shedding light upon the developments in the country.

It catches one’s eye that Turkey has toughened its reaction along with the rising international pressure. The attacks targeting the Turkish diplomatic missions in Syria, two days ago, have strengthened this stand. The clearest indicator that Turkey thinks the Assad regime needs to come to an end was Ahmet Davutoglu’s meeting with the Syrian opposition.

However, Turkey should not act all by itself from now on. In a period in which the Arab League has been opposing the Assad regime, Turkey has to maneuver as a component of both the Arab world and the other international actors. In this manner, the outcomes from the Fourth Meeting of the Turkish-Arab Forum on November 16 with the Arab countries can bring more effective results, as well as from other various international platforms where the decisions will be taken jointly. Furthermore, the actors who have been refusing to be involved in the events should be persuaded that what has been going on in Syria constitutes an important problem. Frankly, such kinds of steps should have been taken already.

It is now known that Assad has exhausted all the alternatives. All he can do from now on is withdraw, since other solutions would be obsolete. It has become easier for the opponents who have had difficulties to meet on a common ground to cooperate. It is also a hopeful signal that Turkey has direct contact with the opposition. Once the Syrian opposition act together properly, the anti-regime movements can be more efficient.

In addition to the opposition’s act as a whole, dispersing the alliance among the elite who support the regime is very important for the public to get its demand’s worth. Although there is the possibility of triggering the violence to even higher levels, loosening the commitment among the political, economic, and military elite, who were the source of strength in the Baath regime, by standing beside it to this day is the sole factor in shortening the life of and even finishing off the regime. If this alliance ends, the elements who think differently within the Baath regime will be able to raise their voices. Ending this elite alliance and acting together would give way to a change from within, which is a must since an intervention from the outside would have great handicaps.

It is clear that the change should be provided by the internal dynamics. An international intervention in Syria can have troubling consequences. Comparing the NATO intervention in Libya where the system does not yet work properly with a possible intervention in Syria would not be correct, since the two countries have different characteristics.

It should not be ignored that Syria has different alliance relations than Libya, which is relatively confined and isolated from international actors. In this sense, Syria’s prominent ally is Iran, which politically, technically, and militarily supports the regime. And as opposed to its attitude toward other countries, Iran has been supporting the violence against the opposition movements in the Syrian case. This means that without considering Iran, it is very difficult to analyze and make sense of the Syrian issue.

Consequently, it is possible to say that an international intervention can cause a disaster. If such a process begins, it is likely that actors like Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Hamas can enter the process with provocations. This possibility has rendered the option of military intervention undesirable both for the public and the other regional actors.

All in all, the Syrian issue should be solved with the internal dynamics. The only solution for the country, where an international intervention would be out of countenance, passes through the persuasion of some political, military, and economic elite. This situation cannot continue like this.


O. Bahadir Dincer
USAK Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies


JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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