Logo Wide

International Coup Against Syrian Opposition

The International community is giving up on the Syrian opposition, as the Steps-for-Steps approach probably won't yield any major concessions from the regime, al-Modon reports.
International Coup Against Syrian Opposition
International Coup Against Syrian Opposition

The Syrian opposition is increasingly concerned about the steps for steps approach promoted by UN envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen. This comes amid the belief that Pedersen’s approach, of which he spoke a few days ago, claiming it received international support -ie Russia and the U.S.- would be at the service of the Syrian regime. 

The opposition believes that Pedersen is maneuvering to search for a straight path, rather than that of the constitutional committee, which is troubled by obstacles and the regime’s intransigence. The regime is not willing to make any of the significant concessions required of it internationally, without sufficient pressure. 

It is believed that the steps-for-steps approach came into force after Washington and Moscow agreed on several principles in the Syrian issue. This refers to the recent easing of sanctions against the Syrian regime by allowing regional countries to conclude economic agreements in which the regime was a party. 

Former Syrian diplomat in Washington, Bassam Barbandi, says that steps-for-steps is an operational strategy that has generated some of the U.S. and Russia’s agreement on a number of principles, such as avoiding the failure of the Syrian state and the collapse of its institutions -including the army- ending the existence of terrorism, as well as respecting areas of influence and the interests of countries in Syria (Russia, Turkey, Iran). 

In doing so, the Syrian regime is the biggest beneficiary of the steps-for-steps approach, however, the risk is not in this approach, Barbandi asserts, but rather in the results that it will lead to. He explained that “Russia’s goal is to prevent the economic collapse of the regime, after seizing the political and military issues.” 

Read Also: Pedersen: Will Explain to Damascus Steps for Steps Approach

In the face of uncertainty regarding the regime’s response, the head of the American Alliance for Syria, Dr Mahmoud Barazi, warns the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden against adopting this approach, and instead start taking steps within the framework of easing sanctions, before the regime takes “positive” steps.

“When the U.S. administration adopts steps like this, it puts the ball in the regime’s court, with prior certainty that there would be no cooperation,” he said, adding that “it is almost impossible for the regime to change its behavior.” 

Imminent steps to approach 

The results of the steps-for-steps approach will not stop at the exception granted by Washington to the Lebanese government from the “Caesar” sanctions in the issue of importing energy from Jordan and Egypt through Syria. From Bassam Barbandi’s point of view, given that the approach is mainly U.S.-Russian, it is expected to witness more assistance to civil society organizations and international organizations dealing with the issue of early reconstruction (restoration of schools, restoration of power and water plants, maintenance of infrastructure) in regime-controlled areas. Besides, it is not unlikely that European-funded organizations will enter the regime’s regions.

Read Also: In Surprise Statement, Pedersen: No Party Seeks Regime Change in Syria

However, despite all of the above, the administration continues to emphasize its refusal to normalize with the Syrian regime, as expressed by White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk. A few days ago, he talked about his country’s refusal to normalize with the Syrian regime, secretly or publicly, despite agreeing to gradually lift sanctions. 

“There is no real answer to that, but it does seem that there are fears of an economic fall of the regime, leading to the establishment of a militia state. Therefore, this economic easing comes within the framework of Washington’s efforts to achieve a degree of balance,” Barbandi said. “But U.S. economic steps toward the regime will not reach a radical change, because Washington is not willing to give Moscow everything it wants.”

Popular pressure 

The opposition, which Pedersen’s statements put in the face of a new impasse, does not appear to be taking solid positions. Its reactions are still ranging from criticizing the UN envoy to demanding that he not deviate from his mission. 

Although the head of the Syrian High Negotiations Commission, Anas al-Abda, warned a few days ago that suspending the constitutional committee was one of the options on the table, Barbandi ruled it out, for reasons related to the way the political opposition thinks and its concerns for personal gains. 

“The solution is to create revolutionary popular media pressure to boycott Pedersen’s work,” he said, “so that he can pay attention to the demands of the Syrian people.”


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

Helpful keywords