The American-Russian negotiations over Syria have reached an advanced stage, but the new agreement still lacks the teeth to achieve results, a political scholar specialized in Syrian affairs said during between American Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Speaking to Zaman al- Wasl, the scholar, who preferred to remain anonymous, said a political solution will be offered to the Syrian regime to accept by next June, otherwise the West will be obliged to abandon negotiations with Russia and search for alternatives, including arming the opposition or through direct intervention, justified by the use of chemical weapons and weapons transported to Hezbollah.
The scholar said that according to the information he received and his personal analysis, it is no secret that America, Russia and all other parties have agreed to pursue the Geneva communique as the starting point for a political solution in Syria. But, he said, there is still no agreement on the interpretation of Paragraph (a), Section 9, on the nature of a full transitional government and the role of President Bashar Al-Assad.
The scholar said that following the last meeting in Moscow, the two parties agreed on the establishment of a transitional government that will have full authority without Assad, on the condition that his government will be divided into three sections; one third to the regime, one third to the opposition including all its many factions and one third for moderate non-affiliated independents. It is expected that this third will win the presidency of the transitional government along with powerful ministers such as Defense and the Interior.
As for the future of Assad, the scholar said the following was closer to reality than what was conveyed during meetings:
- The U.S. has agreed to start negotiations without the precondition of the departure of Assad, and that an international conference must be established under a U.N. Security Council resolution under Chapter 6.
- The U.S has refused to agree that Assad can stay the length of his current term and that Russia has accepted the American position. Consequently, Assad will be part of the transition period for three months until he finalizes the handover of his authority to the transition government. Afterwards, Assad will withdraw silently from the Syrian political scene, without noise and without officially resigning. As a result, the government will declare the Presidency vacant and it will remain so until parliamentary elections, which in turn will elect a parliament to specify the nature of the political system, either presidential or parliamentary.
The scholar said the two parties had agreed on the need for the acceptance of these these two primary points by the regime and all regional countries, especially Iran, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He added that unfortunately, the opposition, lacking any agreement on negotiation, has no real role in the discussions; while it will not be totally ignored, there is a general consensus that including it and participating with it serves as an obstacle rather than a solution.
He continued that the meeting between Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin scheduled for the middle of June will be the last chance to put any agreement into practice. Otherwise, he said, western nations will be free from the European Union weapons embargo, and the U.S., who have been strengthening opposition military Chiefs of Staff, will be prepared to arm them.