ISSN 2330-717X

Who Benefits From An Unstable Syria? – OpEd


By Mike Jennings

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held prolonged talks on Tuesday on a Russian proposal on Syria, which would keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power until elections are held, without getting closer to a resolution.

The proposal, according to Turkish news website dunya bulteni which claims to have access to the document, would call for presidential elections to be held in Syria but would recognize Assad as the Syrian President until after the elections. A similar process is already in progress in Yemen.

However, after four hours of debate the Security Council failed to agree on the proposal, mainly because the West seeks a confrontational approach to the situation in Syria, namely, sanctions and military intervention.

It is evident that Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s proposal to deploy Arab troops in Syria was an effort coordinated with Washington. Deployment of troops in Syria would either have to be with the approval of the Syrian government – which given the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s swift rejection is not a feasible outcome – or it would come in form of an invasion which will add war to the long list of the problems Syria is currently dealing with.

The latter would further deepen the divide in the country and pave the way for an international military presence in Syria which would serve the interests of the United States.

Al Thani’s call came at a time when Damascus had agreed to allow Arab League observers extend their stay in the country and continue with their investigation in Syrian cities and towns.

While the Syrian government appears to be cooperating with efforts to end violence in the country, the United States is taking steps that would fuel the unrest.

On Tuesday, January 17, US President Barak Obama hailed King Abdullah II of Jordan for being the first Arab leader to publicly call on the Syrian president to step down.

“We continue to see unacceptable levels of violence inside that country,” Obama said. “We will continue to consult very closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and environment that encourage the current Syrian regime to step aside so that a more democratic process and transition can take place inside of Syria.”

Such remarks at a time when the Syrian government is making progress towards restoring peace and stability are counterproductive.

When Bashar al-Assad came to power in July 2000, he promised free elections, technological advances, a free press, and freedom of speech for the exchange of ideas. Large cities such as Damascus and Aleppo saw improvements early in Bashar’s reign. By 2003-2004 dialogue and debates were commonplace in Syrian cities. The era was dubbed by some observers as the “Damascus Spring.”

Bashar Assad proved to be a reformer and had it not been for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut which complicated the political atmosphere in Syria as well as Lebanon, the reform movement could have gone further.

The recent string of violence in Syria began in mid-March 2011, when Syrians held both pro and anti-government demonstrations as a number of Arab countries were experiencing anti-government protests as part of the Islamic Awakening.

However, what the Syrian government calls “outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” orchestrated from abroad took advantage of the situation and engaged in a bloody battle which has claimed the lives of thousands of life so far.

Over the past ten months images of tanks in Syrian cities armed individual and wounded and killed civilians have been synonymous with Syria.

The government of Bashar Assad says the country’s security forces have been given clear instructions not to harm civilians, adding that the negative media campaign has had a negative impact on its efforts to bring peace and stability to Syria.

In addition, Syrian state TV has broadcast reports showing seized weapons caches and confessions by terrorist elements describing how they obtained arms from foreign sources.

On January 11, President Assad joined thousands of government supporters in the capital Damascus and said Syria will “undoubtedly triumph over foreign conspiracies.” The Syrians have repeatedly expressed solidarity with the government over the past weeks.

The Syrian government has lifted the decades old “state of emergency” and allowed for peaceful protests. But even that did not stop the dissidents from violence. The fact that the dissidents have not laid out a set of specific goals or demands supports the Syrian government’s assumption that they are being organized from abroad.

Assad, who has once proven to be a man of change, is now close to end the months old violence in Syria and he has again promised reform. Allowing him to fulfill his promise appears to be in the best interest of the Syrian people, who have expressed their solidarity with the government as well.

However, imposing sanctions on Syria would adversely affect the living standard of Syrian civilians and would mount pressure on the government, thus providing the dissidents with the opportunity to continue on their violent path and would have the potential to reduce the country to a civil war, which will be damaging the society for generations to come.

A civil war also increased the risk of destabilizing the entire region, according to observers. Lebanon in particular is often mentioned, but also Iraq and even Turkey may get drawn into it.

A destabilized Middle East would serve the interest of non-other than the United States, which often uses such opportunities to star wars and increase its presence in the oil-rich region.

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Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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