In the so-called “Ge-neva II” round of talks underway (in Montreux, Switzerland, not Geneva) during late January 2014, on the conflict in Syria, Syrian opposition chief Ahmed Jarba has kept demanding, in the name of the interna-tional community, the ouster of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad. “The world is now sure that Assad cannot stay and will not stay,” he said.
It’s time for a reality check.
There is a multi-faceted war going on in the territories of Syria, as well as Iraq and Lebanon. Since the dawn of history, wars ended with winners and losers. In this war in Syria, the Assad Administration has already won and the opposition was defeated. Hence, what US Secretary of State John Kerry is telling Bashar al-Assad in Montreux is essentially something like: “Since our protégés have failed to defeat you and overthrow your government, you should now surrender at the negotiating table.”
Meanwhile, on the ground, the Bashar al-Assad Administration won the war because it enjoys the support of 70 to 75 percent of the Syrian population. About half of all Syrians — virtually all of them Sunni Arabs — now prefer the Assad Administration to prevail because they are exhausted of war and suffering, they dread the jihadists, and they hate and mistrust the exiled opposition (the one Jabra leads and Obama supports). No verbal magic in Montreux will change this reality.
Fighting, however, continue to spread. The now fully integrated wars in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon would have ended long ago with significantly less casualties and suffering had it not been for the “leading from behind” by the US Barack Obama Administration. The Obama White House profoundly misunderstood the unfolding conflict and mishandled the local and regional reaction. Alas, the high price has been, and still is being, paid by the innocent civilians.
Like in all the other “Arab Spring” eruptions, the Obama White House rushed to embrace, endorse, and encourage the Ikhwan-affiliated forces. In Syria, then-US Ambassador Robert Ford actively encouraged the Islamist opposition to “do something”; that is, escalate the then non-violent confrontation with the As-sad Administration. When violence erupted, the US encouraged Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other states to start funneling funds and weapons to Islamist forces. With the US-led NATO intervention in Libya escalating, US officials impressed upon their Syrian protégés that a similar US-led intervention in Syria was soon to commence, and that consequently they would be empowered in Damascus. Hence, why should the Islamist opposition have interpreted their rejection by the Syrian grassroots as a reason to quit the fight when the US was about to deliver victory and put the Islamists in power?
The long-term consequences are beginning to show.
As in all the other “Arab Spring” eruptions, the Obama White House did not bother to ask the local people what they really want and aspire for. Alas, one of the prime lessons of human history is that when people are pushed to immense suffering and violence, they capitalize on the chaos and ordeal in order to realize their own aspirations. The peoples of the Middle East are not different. They are now adamant on drasti-cally changing the socio-political environment they live in so that another catastrophe will not erupt in the foreseeable future. And the peoples of the Middle East have given up on the modern Arab state as the viable framework that might protect them in the future.
Extracts from Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis - January 26, 2014 GIS Confidential © 2014 Global Information System, ISSA