Monday, 24 December 2012

War For Syria - Who Is Winning?

After all this misery, how can Syrians live together again?

Part of his job was to ensure that religious clerics did not preach outside the government's line. If they did, he would unleash his men to arrest and torture them - and then monitor them for the rest of their lives.
"We're fighting Wahhabism whenever we find it," the officer once told a new graduate in Sharia studies, who had visited him to build trust and avoid any future arrest. This young imam, now a commander of an anti-regime faction, says this officer acted with the callous, pathological arrogance characteristic of the Baathist regime.
Then in mid-November, Abu Imad and 20 of his crew were killed in a battle with the Free Syrian Army. His body, dumped in the street, lay there for days; no one was willing to bury it.
Scenes like that may bring closure to those whose kinsfolk or friends have been killed by the regime's forces in the most brutal ways imaginable. Many hope to see Bashar Al Assad's body in the street. But is vengeance the best way forward?
Talk of a political settlement with the regime has resurfaced following a series of indications by the regime and its allies that a compromise might be considered: Vice president Farouq Al Sharaa told the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar last Monday that neither the regime nor the opposition can win militarily and that a historic settlement is needed. Almost simultaneously, Iran offered a six-point plan to solve the Syrian crisis. And Russia hinted that it is no longer committed to the survival of the dictator as head of state.
These signals are an attempt by the regime to distract attention from last week's international recognition of the opposition National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, a step taken at the same time as Patriot missiles and troops were sent close to Syria's border.
To a degree the regime has succeeded in its attempt. A number of media reports and diplomatic moves over the past few days appear to disregard what Syrians have gone through since the last time the regime spoke of a national dialogue. The regime knows that the western powers would look positively upon a political settlement that would sideline extremists, and it is playing on that dynamic. The opposition and its friends must not take the bait.
Outside support for the opposition needs to continue, even increase. The international community may be tempted to put the brakes on, but the regime's previous calls for diplomacy have been mere ruses to stall for time. Unless the regime offers a meaningful concession, aid to the rebels should be stepped up. It is time the world learnt that only the rebels' advance can compel the regime to reconsider its policies and a way out.
The UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, reportedly arrived in Damascus yesterday. Any resulting political deal that could be perceived as a rebranding of the regime would lead to chaos and disintegration. Meanwhile, as the situation drags on, extremist forces are increasingly building their influence within Syrian society.
A comprehensive solution that will satisfy the Syrian people will not include a place for this president. He must go - that is a minimum for the families of around 50,000 victims, nearly a million refugees and hundreds of thousands of prisoners.
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