By: Hassan Haidar
It is the same old story repeating itself with America. Every time, we discover that it is in one world, while we are in another… Its behavior is driven by immediate considerations and interests and its actions are not inspired by the values and concepts which its leaders purposely craft into ambiguous phrases for general consumption – phrases that could apply to any situation at any time, but that they also sell to the world as an unshakable “beacon” of their foreign policy.
And every time, the Arabs, charred by the fire of allies more than that of enemies, renew their trust in international diplomacy, because they realize that the choice of confrontation in the region would mean destruction and chaos without achieving one’s purpose. Such a choice could also destroy in mere days what has taken decades to achieve, and could turn back the clock after colossal efforts had been required to push it forward.
There are of course limits to the ability of international diplomacy to resolve crises and find solutions to complex and regionally and internationally overlapping issues, such as that of Palestine and that of the Syrian crisis. Yet there is a clear distinction between being seriously committed to reaching a logical solution, even if this is nearly tantamount to performing miracles, and merely raising it as a slogan that fails to yield any results.
Thus, the notion of a “political solution” in Syria, which Moscow seeks and Washington has adopted, is clearly a flawed one, as it equates between victims and oppressors, and in fact prefers the latter and seeks to perpetuate their actions and protect them from being held to account.
The Russians base their stance on the declared American desire to avoid any confrontation that does not directly concern the security of the United States, even if this exposes its friends and allies to various threats. They thus escalate their campaign of purposeful disinformation, which characterizes the Syrian opposition in its entirety as radical, extremist and affiliated to Al-Qaeda. The Americans and Europeans take the bait, so much so that the goal of the supposed settlement becomes not to form a transitional Syrian government that would pave the way for removing the heads of the Assad regime and recycling its main body, as stated in the Geneva I agreement, but rather to prove the “moderation” of the opposition and its ability to “reassure” the West – as if the problem had in the first place been with the opposition, not with the regime.
There may well be numerous and large flaws in the structure and performance of the Syrian opposition, most of which can be explained by insufficient political and practical experience, after members of the opposition had remained for about half a century exposed to killing and persecution, or by the fact that some opposition factions cling to ready-made ideas and formulas that are no longer applicable. Yet this opposition, as fragmented as it may be, still represents the overwhelming majority of Syrians, including those subjected to the arbitrary practices of security services in non-liberated areas, and reflects their aspirations to build a state of freedoms and democracy. Indeed, the pressures being exerted on the opposition to sit down to the same table as “the Butcher”, as it calls Assad, only represents a process of turning against the will of the Syrian people and shedding doubt on their ability to make the right choice.
At the Friends of Syria meeting in London two days ago, the opposition raised a series of “no’s”, clinging to the necessity for Assad to leave and rejecting Iran’s participation if it does not agree to the contents of Geneva I. The eleven Foreign Ministers responded to its wishes, asserting that Assad and those close to him would have no role to play in the transitional phase and what would come after it. Yet the true test will reside in their commitment to this, because there are fears that the Americans will once again back down on their promises, as they did when they threatened to direct a military strike against the regime’s forces, as long as they consider the Syrian crisis to represent a bargaining chip in negotiations with Iran and Russia.