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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’urgence d’une solution politique

by Pierre Barbancey

Syria : A Political Solution Is Urgent

Translated Friday 27 January 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

It is now clear that the Syrian government will not be able to put an end to the movement of rebellion that has been sending shock waves across the country. It is just as clear that the opposition cannot topple the regime. Not only does the whole army still stand on the government’s side but defections are few. Yet it seems that a number of regional actors prefer to add fuel to the flames. So does Qatar – who has openly called for an Arab intervention in Syria, but so does Turkey too.

This is no pure coincidence. For several years now those two countries have been trying to gain a political and diplomatic hegemony over the region by keeping up very close ties with the Islamist movements, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi. The Syrian National Council itself is thus largely dominated by Islamists. The Free Syrian Army is based on Turkish soil, and its leaders cannot be approached except through the Turkish Foreign ministry. Qatar has served as Arab guarantor for NATO’s war in Libya. Turkey is a member of NATO… It is plain that a military intervention against Syria, like the recent one in Libya, would deal a fatal blow to the region. Yet Ankara is still promoting a military issue and saying that it would stand behind UNO (in fact NATO) if it needed help.

A peaceful solution can prevail. But only if the Syrian opposition unites. Now Turkey is exerting pressure on the SNC in order that it denounces the agreement it struck with the Syrian Democratic Forces’ National Coordination. Likewise guarantees must be given to a number of figures close to the leader’s circle in order that they contribute to open a political perspective, and to push the reigning clan offstage. That the National Coordination now has contacts with Russia and China is definitely a good omen. But time is short. A civil war can break out, armed groups can gain control as is now beginning to happen. There is a window of opportunity that might make it possible both to oust the regime and to maintain Syria’s unity. That is the solution that should be backed in order to bring the bloodshed to an end in a country that is still secular.

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