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Assad’s removal is the condition for resolving the conflict in Syria

06 November 2013 / 14:11:39  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balzdrova

The "Geneva - 2" Peace Conference , which will attempt to put an end to the conflict in Syria, has been postponed as previously announced by the Special Representative of the UN and the Arab League, Lahdar Brahimi. The reason for this is the failure to settle the disputes regarding the participants and its agenda. Brahimi, however, states that his goal is for the meeting to take place by the end of the year and that he will again meet with U.S. and Russian diplomats on 25 November.

Shortly before this turn of events, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy ELIAMEP in Athens delivered its annual lecture entitled "Revolutionary Processes in Syria and [the rest of] the Arab World. The Quest to New Deals amidst Turmoil", with the participation of Dr. Bassma Kodmani, co-founder and former spokesperson for the Syrian National Council and Executive Director of the centre for research "Arab Reform Initiative".

She pointed out that the revolt in Syria had begun in the same way as in all other countries in the region such as Libya, Tunisia, Yemen. "This was our revolution for democracy but it has grown into a civil war," she said and, openly admitting the faults, added, "The opposition was wrong that it was possible to peacefully reject the authoritarian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The international community reacted rather indifferently on its part and perceived the events in Syria as part of the general situation in the Arab countries."

According to Dr. Kodmani, all this had contributed towards the rapid mobilization of the regime. "Assad's forces exerted brutal violence and began to kill more during the first protests. He was following his father’s example, always using forces outnumbering the protesters. His logic was that the more violence used, the sooner the public support to the rebellions would diminish. Then, by imposing fear, the regime put under its control entire regions and, later, entire ethnic groups. An example of this is the Kurds who had initially sided with the Syrian opposition but then stated that, since there was no plan for the country, they would follow their own plan. The fourth strategy of the regime was to transfer the problem to the surrounding countries. The Kurdish issue was actually an attempt to destabilize Turkey."

Dr. Kodmani described some of the armed groups operating in the territory of Syria as groups composed mostly of criminals from different countries. "Some of them are being supported by other countries, especially by those in the Arabian Gulf, the aim of this being the imposition of Sharia. They however should not be confused with groups of jihadists which are connected with terrorist networks like Al Qaeda and funded by private interests through illegal channels. Their actions are in full support of the regime which saw in them a chance to stick to power." According to her, men from Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen are also involved in the paramilitary groups of the regime of Assad, using violence to protect his interests. "In my opinion those people are so cruel to civilians precisely because they are not part of Syrian society."

The mosaic of the participants in the battles involves small groups of armed Syrians who are only seeking to protect their villages and families from the attacks. "The real Syrian opposition had no support against this background. Its groups had neither weapons nor funding and, as a result, it could not oppose the regime. If we want a democratic resolution of the conflict, we must influence the military situation. But if we do not obtain support from the international community, Syria will continue to sink."

Dr. Kodmani described the military operations as battles between the participants in the triangle of regime - Syrian groups - jihadists. "The democratic groups must be supported. It may be hard to understand why, but if the leader of a group is not able to provide food and ammunition for three months ahead, his fighters will join other groups. The hope of reaching a political agreement in Syria is small but it is worth working for it."

She pointed out that the regime had intensified the violence every time the diplomatic level was at a standstill. Therefore, the position of the Syrian opposition is that Bashar al-Assad must be removed before the start of the negotiations on Syria’s future. The opinion of Assad’s opponents that he is hiding part of his chemical arsenal and is still using chemical weapons has somewhat been confirmed by today's information disseminated by the U.S. intelligence that there are indications of this.

According to the opposition, Bashar al-Assad cannot, and should not, be involved in the negotiations on the future of Syria. "There is a text that the U.S. and Russia have considered. It provides for the removal of Assad from power as well as for the formation of an interim government. I think the opposition should be invited to the peace conference on Syria and should participate in the negotiations. Actually, the group which will be selected will represent the new policy potential of the country."

Tags: PoliticsSyriaPeace conferenceRegimeBashar al-AssadOppositionBattlesBassma Kodmani
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