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Syria… The Way to the Black Hole
(Samir Altaqi – Husam Miro (Senior Researches
(Ibrahim Al Assil – Muneer Al Rayes – Rasha Al Jundi (Associate Researcers
The Syrian Social convention
Modern Syria was torn apart after independence. The national political and the social conventions have gone through many stages that can be divided into three republics: The first republic established from independence till the Syrian Egyptian union. The second republic that started with the union and stopped for a short period from the twenty-eighth of September, 1961 till the eighth of March, 1963, then back to the Populist authoritarian rule. We can see that the current revolution has come trying to establish the third Syrian republic. In this summary, we are going to focus on the nature of the national political and the social conventions after the Baath party reached the authority.
The national political convention was established based on what was called the revolutionary legitimacy. The Baath party ruled this era through creating and imposing a set of values on which the authority of the party and the Assad family afterwards was based. It tried to derive legitimacy from a programmatic vision of national missions: Freeing the land, accomplishing the national union, and social missions. It was an attempt of combining social justice and development in a socialist systematic frame, which shaped the structure of the state to be a Syrian copy of the socialist state in Eastern Germany. Hence, after the fall of the parliament democratic regime in the fifties, the essence of deriving the revolutionary legitimacy at some stage was from national, revolutionary, dogmatic, and class factors. Afterwards, the national political convention went through deep changes as a result of the authority transferred to the Assad family and their control on it. Therefore, the Baath party regime gradually moved from the league of the public base consisted of the poor coming from the Syrian countryside and the civil middle classes, to the alliance of the military clique that the Assad family represents the core and a group of parasite merchants. This alliance was basically in Damascus, Aleppo and some other areas
Within the arrival of Bashar Assad, the change of the social convention and the regime’s economic base has deepened to be a social convention. It released a looting corrupted neoliberal similar to Mubarak in Egypt and Putin in Russia, after it was only an alliance of a military core with parasite businessmen in a monopoly capitalist umbrella of the state.
In addition to violence, the regime has been able to establish its authority by renewing the social convention and maintaining its ability of obtaining a big income. It was a price for its role as a “Baltagy” or bully in a region filled with crises where the consequences of Sykes–Picot Agreement, Balfour Declaration, and the cold war are being refined.
This has allowed the regime to provide a large income funded by other earnings and aids for forty years. It also allowed the regime to cover partially its extreme failure in development, balancing the social contradictions, and controlling the social security. This situation permitted the regime to build a deeply corrupted system in the community. The system has had an essential social role letting the loyalty system to be reproduced and the social bribe base to be expanded in order to control and oppress the contradicts of the social field.
Since the arrival of Bashar Assad, a set of incidents occurred that changed the legitimacy atmosphere and the regime’s ability to reproduce it due to different reasons that will not be discussed. Henceforth, the income has enormously decreased squashing the social base of the regime. It abandoned the remains of the social bribes to take over the national overflow income out of increased greed and excessive arrogance. As a result, the regime lost the ability to balance the social contradictions, whereas the calls for freedom and union have fallen apart as a justification for the development failure. Moreover, the corrupted neoliberal sections went further through refining the political and the social basis of the regime’s legacy when it terminated who remained from the Baath party in spite of the fact that they were the main founder of the regime’s legacy.
At the same time, the political arrogance of the regime led the country’s strategic options out of the Arabic umbrella and under the Iranian influence in the region without looking back. Accordingly, the components of the legitimacy driven from the Palestinian cause and Arab nationalist union were dissolved from the time of the war on Iraq up till the end of the Syrian Saudi Egyptian alliance. Meanwhile, the regime failed in making one serious step towards freeing the occupied land in Golan Heights.
Therefore, huge gaps started to appear between generations, classes, and regions in the Syrian society. Furthermore, the undervalued neglected areas have expanded and the recognizable features for the complete dissociation of the social solidarity appeared besides the traditional loyalty structure. On the other hand, the regime’s oppression terminated the possibility of crystalizing the civil forms of loyalty, leadership, and citizens’ solidarity on the community level. As a result, the old died and the new appeared weakly leading to the disappearance of belonging and scattering the society under the pressure of the crisis.
On this foundation and under the absence of any political and educational guidance, the society burst out in a revolution from the bottom to the top. It has surprised everyone by its bravery, persistence, spontaneity, and reaching all the public. Therefore, the revolution continued to overthrow the old but the birth of the new is still concernedly facing difficulties. Herewith, we are facing the collapse of the social convention, the alliance of the regime and the businessmen in cities, plus the foundation of the legitimacy of this type.
The development of the current conflict is to express the genuine desire of the biggest people powers in order to establish a third Syrian state. This would take the country from the different forms of the revolutionary legitimacy era to the constitutional legitimacy based on the civil democratic rule.
However, in the absence of any acceptable level of logistic and political guidance and even the lack the minimum satisfying limit of the military leadership, the main question remains: How can a new political social convention be reproduced to change the current chaos to the process of creating a legitimacy which does not stand on repressing the conflict, but rather on the harmonization of national convention reasoning?
The present incidents clarify the continuousness of proportional steadiness in the authority work within its smallest limits and in the army efficiency. Nonetheless, their collapse and change into a pure local mafia structure may speed up the army rift after combining them with the “Shabiha”, a group of armed men in civilian clothing who support the Syrian Regime. On the other hand, the revolution with its civil and political elites and leaders failed in creating a loyalty system with a state of collective voluntary discipline. It aimed to achieve the minimum limit of agreement, order, and obedience, in addition to the minimum limit of protecting the civilians and managing their matters as a circle where the convention of the Syrian state and nation could be convened.
Blocking the way of the new civil forces and standards have left troubling questions for the future of state establishment process, especially after long decades of destroying loyalty systems and old standards.
All the negative meanings of selfhood, sectarianized randomness, tribalism, and religious extremism embody the country’s return to the complete chaos similar to what was common in Europe between the eleventh and the fourteenth centuries.
In order to gain automatically the loyalty system of the citizens, the international recognition of this or that authority is needed after the fall of the regime. However, it is naïve to think that it is enough for the Syrian cause. Loyalty and legitimacy come firstly and lastly from a genuine objective maturity of true national leaderships and national domestic harmonization factors. Since the regime was able to establish part of its legitimacy based on over national factors, it has been also able to abolish the machinery and structure of the national loyalty. This has created a state of hollowness and absence of command in a serious manner.
The conflict is going into the current dilemma stage as we reach the level of balancing the weaknesses. On the other hand, the Syrian community continues to present enormous sacrifices within the arrival of the revolutionary forces and the erosion of the regime control. Meanwhile, the biggest challenge that would face the third born state is how to transfer the authority and its keys from the current revolutionary legacy to a democratic constitutional legacy.
Exploring the motives of the forces that produced the revolution on one side, and its political and social ambitions, mottos, fundamentals on the other side, would make us say obtaining legitimacy depends on how much this authority achieves in having the national consensus of the union components and the national unanimity and what they could accomplish the society’s hopes in advancement, plus the sustainable human and economic development.
The General Features of the Present Political Syrian Reality
It is clear that there are many factors that show the current Syrian reality has become a part of the struggle itself. They have contributed in turning the Syrian crisis to a battlefield of the conflicting international and regional interests.
As a start, the long period of this struggle has had an important role on many levels such as:
1- On the Opposition Level:
- The fragility of the civil democratic opposition in the presence of the Islamic power. As the civil opposition is centered in a number of areas, there are many civil organizations that are not supervised by local coordination committees, but they work using good communication machinery. There are about 600 organizations in the whole country and each one consists of averagely 100 people. Nonetheless, they do not follow a united league or a specific political program, but they all adopt the concept of the civil democratic state. Some minorities contribute in most of these organizations that some are consisted of citizens from religious minorities.
- The long time period revealed the differences in the Islamic powers and created the foundation of Islamic jihadi powers.
- The Syrian opposition failed in finding an alternative leader for the country and the revolution. Although creating the National Coalition has had a remarkable achievement in uniting the opposition, the path to gaining a national political agreement and a nationwide leadership still needs a lot of efforts.
Additionally, some opposition forces have fallen into the plight of regional and international use. Hence, their role has been specified to be a combining side of the revolution forces.
- The division has rooted into the armed opposition, the Free Syrian Army, in addition to the diversion in loyalties. In spite of what they have produced on the regional or international level, the Free Syrian Army could not form a united military command in reality that could control arms and their use nor build a military strategy. Furthermore, many areas where the Free Army is located have not witnessed any noticeable merit from these forces. Nevertheless, they have witnessed catastrophes for the people leading to the change of a large number of supporters.
2- On the Regime’s Level:
- Most dissidents in the regime were Sunnis, whereas the dissidents from the other components were generally rare or absent.
- Dissents only occurred on the level of individuals and small military units, but not large ones.
- The regime is suffering from its inability of making military settlements, in addition to the loss of military control on many areas. This may cause other forms of the central state dominance.
- The regime has lost the international legitimacy while maintaining loyalty with some countries, mainly Russia and Iran.
- The regime tries severely to maintain control on the Syrian capital, Damascus, due to its political symbolism, besides their power over the passageways at the Lebanese and Jordanian boarders and the ports in Tartous and Lattakia.
- The regime’s attentiveness in the war against the opposition forces by using the air arms and mortar fires while avoiding the direct confrontation with the Free Syrian Army components.
3- On the Humanistic Level:
- The Syrians are sharing the same anguish although the level varies from one area to another whether controlled by the Syrian Official army or the Free Syrian Army.
- The Syrians’ capability of providing the basic needs for living has significantly decreased. What draws attention is that the crises are increasing in the regions dominated by the Free Syrian Army more than others dominated by the Syrian army, especially in Aleppo and Idlib. It is probably because the state administration is still carried out in the areas of the Syrian Official Army in a more organized matter than in the Free Syrian Army’s areas in spite of the scarcity of the available resources. Nonetheless, the new loyalty systems have taken control of distributing the aids in case of their availability or sufficiency in meeting the needs. Moreover, the lack of administrative organizations which are capable of managing and proving the basic needs in some areas.
- The number of the refugees and the people who fled their homes is about 4 million inside and outside Syria. There are about 500,000 refugees in the surrounding countries and the north of Africa, whereas there are 14 camps in three countries today: Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey. According to the UNHCR, only 40% of the Syrian refugees live in camps. In Jordan, the Syrians living in camps do not exceed 24% of the Syrian refugees, while 76% live in rented apartments or with their relatives. Most often, many families share the same residence. However, the number of 500,000 refugees needs to be taken into consideration and to be reexamined since there are huge numbers of refugees in Egypt who are not registered at the UNHCR.
- The refugees’ conditions vary from one country to another. In Turkey, they live in better conditions than others in Lebanon or the camps in Iraq and Jordan.
- Besides the number of the deaths that has reached to more than 80,000, there are tens thousands of detainees, plus an enormous number of injured who need immediate or consistent treatment.
4- Odd Cases:
- Many mafias went into Syria operating in coordination with drugs or arms gangs that appeared during the crisis. They also bought government machineries for cheap prices, or carried out kidnaps and other acts. At the same time, they took advantage of the chaos and the new exiting powers that can be dealt with.
- Some battalions of the Free Syrian Army have destroyed the government’s properties, which were public properties. This did not have any strategic goals, which means it was destruction for the sake of nothing.
- Bribe rate has enormously increased in government departments, reaching unbelievable numbers.
- The sectarian hostility has increased, especially towards the other components. Furthermore, theft, kidnaps, and committing murders based on identity cards have also spread.
5- Elements Can be Relied on:
- A state of social solidarity between Syrians appearing in many areas although sometimes some people may use that for personal motives and take advantage of others.
- The involvement of the youth generation in the political line and civil action, even though a lot of the youth ideas lack a clear vision, especially in the civil organizations.
- The increased desire to find a solution for the crisis by large sectors of the government supporters. This was resulted by the strong feeling that the continuity of this endless struggle could mean the collapse of the society and community and having the worst scenarios.
- The spread of the neutral sector in the society that can help the social powers work together to maintain the national structure and adopt realistic solutions.
- The realization of many Syrians that the international community does not care about their humanistic suffering, whether it supports the opposition or not. Furthermore, there are agendas that do not necessarily meet their interests.
Our Final Estimation is:
- The Insuperable situation in the military field between the forces of the Official and the Free Syrian armies might be terminated by the revolution powers at any minute. Yet, the future of this victory is vague, specifically in the terms of Damascus battle, after all the international declarations of providing aids to the Free Syrian Army have not been accomplished in reality.
- Many people supporting the revolution have a growing demand for making the case of protecting the citizens a priority in all military operations carried out by the Free Syrian Army. They demand as well for avoiding the involvement of the citizens in those operations. This would be the main guarantee for protecting the core and power of the revolution and for avoiding the worst scenarios.
- The Syrian suffering inside would mainly continue on the daily living level. Meanwhile, the humanistic situations would grow worse, which may allow mobs and gangs to commit crimes.
- It has been certain that the set of relations and commitments established between the Syrians who live inside and outside Syria in the past two years will continue its role in the form of resolutions and changes.
- It has been noticed that the regime is still trying to play its role as a state, not as a security and military elite. Although it is carrying on pushing the conflict into the gap of sectarian confrontation, it tries not to give impression that it intends to turn into just a sectarian canton.
The Economic Crisis and the Dissolution of the State
The Syrian successive governments have not been capable of going through a complete development program that is capable of meeting the basic needs of sustainable development. The economic sectors have suffered from long term administrative defects such as corruption, disguised unemployment, and low production. Additionally, unemployment, poverty, and inflation rate have increased, plus there was neither equality nor justice in dividing resources.
- When the Baath Party adopted the economy of the social market, it changed the Syrian economy into working by the market machineries, supply and demand. Yet, it did not take care of the social security nets accompanied by this change. It caused the retreat of the government’s role in the economic daily life, whereas the role of the private sector was getting bigger. Furthermore, when the government went into the free trade agreement with the Arab countries and Turkey, it also led to the role decline of the local industrial sector, which was unqualified for competition. Those sectors faced a lot of loss as the Arabic and Turkish goods entered the market.
At this point, it has been no longer possible for the state structure to generally suit the production tools in the world, especially in Syria. It has caused the government’s inability to maintain the policies of supporting citizens’ basic needs. In the meantime, it gradually withdrew from many sectors such as trade, industry, banking, education and health, as it raised the assistance provided to the fuel in an attempt to ease the consistent the exhaustion of the country’s resources.
The Syrian revolution has clearly showed the failure of the regime in performing the development and economic operations through relating the degree of the social and economic growth in the neglected areas to their participation in the revolution. The current incidents in Syria have caused continuous fall in the general economic indicators because of the paralysis of the economic cycle from one hand, and the imposed economic sanctions on the other hand. Furthermore, the regime’s military option has led the state to handling additional expenses to provide a number of needed tools, such as air crafts maintenance, fuel, arms. Also, it needed to bear salaries and bonuses for elements and armed troops in order to suppress the revolution.
Theoretically, we can ascribe the regime’s adoption of the military resolution to the elite refusal for changing the nature of the social convention according to the society development demands. Additionally, developing the economic Syrian system process from a socialist economy to a social liberal one or what is called the social market economy was stopped.
The military option has caused a high amount of destruction in the infrastructure of the Syrian cities and villages such as roads, electricity, water and telephone networks, plus causing great damage to industrial, trade, and residential buildings. In the same context, the paralysis of the economic cycle in Syria and forcing people to emigrate have raised the number of the unemployed in all Syrian districts accompanied by the shortage of some goods and inflation increase due to the rise of the US Dollar value and the security situations in cities.
The current economic crisis can be summarized in the following points:
- There has been bread and fuel supply crisis in all Syrian districts for the first time as the intense of this crisis varies from one area to another due to the lack of flour, gas, and oil. Additionally, the security and military status in many cities and other areas caused the state of internal emigration and difficulties in having supplies and the unbelievable rise of their prices.
- Comparing to the other currencies, the Syrian pound value has dropped about 100% while inflation raised up about 40% since March 2011 till now. All these have reflected on the prices of the basic consumer goods due to the previous reasons besides the phenomenon of greed, monopsony, and the failure of supervision and prosecuting the law breakers and who cause corruption.
- The humanitarian situation of Syrian refugees, who are about 3 million, has worsened as they suffer in getting sufficient supplies for their living, especially in winter. On the other hand, the governmental and private relief organizations are unable to provide what is needed at the right time and the suitable way and in spite of all efforts.
- Employment has become worse since the services and business establishments have entirely or partially stopped operating. Some have less production and less demand for their goods. It has been also difficult to reach labor places including the industrial production as well as the agricultural plant and animal production.
- The destruction has been still hitting the services and business establishments plus the infrastructure, especially the railways, the power stations, and the gas and oil pipelines.
- Many services and business establishments were closed and some transferred to the nearby countries for different reasons, such as security, lack of fuel and electricity, and the low local and foreign demand.
- The agricultural production dropped about 50%, especially the strategic agricultural crops, such as wheat, sugar beet, and cotton, thus the wheat shortage has reached 1 million ton. Furthermore, fruit and vegetables production plus the market have fallen down because of the difficulties in reaching the farms, factories, and poultry and animal houses in the conflicted areas. There has been also lack of production supplies and complications in marketing and transporting those supplies to the consumers’ areas. Moreover, the raise of the animal feed prices and their threat for the poultry, cattle, and dairy production have caused their prices to go up.
- The foreign and domestic tourist movement inside and outside the Syrian cities have reached the number zero. The tourism income has fallen 75.4% in a comparison between the first quarters in 2012 and 2011.
- There has been shortage of the foreign-exchange reserve after the resources went out as a result of boycott, prohibition, pegging, and the fall of amount of money transfer from the Syrian labor abroad. Another reason is consuming the foreign currencies and smuggling them abroad in order to face the basic needs. These have made a threat for the national currency, thus for the social and economic situation for the upcoming period.
- The export capacity of oil, industrial, agricultural, and other products went down.
- Government liquidity has fallen even in the terms of paying salaries and wages due to the increase of the military and security spending because of the crisis. The governmental income dropped as well as a result of stopping oil export and unsettling taxes, loans, and fees. Additionally, Austria refused to deliver the printed Syrian currency, which has resulted in printing the notes in Russia recently.
The Regional Situation
The main gaps in Obama’s overoptimistic and agreeable strategy towards the Syrian crisis do not lie only in the good intentions of the main involved sides and their submission to the American will. Actually, it relies in the fact that the international inactivity has left the Syrian issue an unprecedented stronghold against regional contradictions and historical struggles for power. It has been founded by only the absence of the international act, mainly the American.
As Curry’s recent round revealed, Obama failed in building a system on the Syrian ground with enough internal balance that permits developing policies based on trust between different sides. Thus, it has been abandoned to be a funnel where destiny is combined with solving all the overlapping affairs in the region where
While Turkey shows resentment towards the USA’s uncertainty of visualizing the solution for Syria, the Egyptian and Tunisian crisis, and the attitude towards the Kurds in Kurdistan, Iraq, the Gulf countries realize the threats of the simplified and over optimistic juxtaposition of the region affairs. This would lead the Middle East and Gulf to live on the edge in their perspective, because of the huge risks that are in the current course of the Russian American negotiations on one hand, and the Iranian American on the other hand. Furthermore, the American intensive inference in Egypt continues for the interests of a winner they would choose, whereas they would avoid even the least interference in Syria.
Furthermore, Iran and Russia started to look at the Syrian field as a test for USA’s intentions of recognizing their interests in Obama’s new Yalta. This matter pushes them to escalate the situation in Syria instead of contributing in finding a solution. All data refers to that the American continuing policy on “Not doing anything” is not only a threat for keeping “Syria as we know it”, as Akhdar Ibrahimi states. It is also a direct threat for the whole balance of the Middle East plus the regional and international security and peace.
Furthermore, we cannot ignore the rising sense of threat that the Israeli strategy experts have due to their doubts about the yields of the negotiations with Iran and the risks of avoiding involvement. This would lead Syria to become a Black Hole that attracts all elements of chaos. This appeared in Erez’s speech at the European parliament on the necessity of the Arab countries interference in Syria.
The International situation
The Syrian uprising broke out demanding for the legislated rights to be free from a dictatorship that lasted for five decades and to change Syria to a national democratic pluralist country. The uprising went on keeping the peaceful mobilization until the killing of the citizens went far pushing the army officers gradually to dissenting in refusal to be killing tools against their own people. Hence, the Free Syrian Army worked on protecting the demonstrators. Afterwards, the Free Army adopted the motto of overthrowing the regime as the main target for them, especially after the regime started to use homicides as a systematic case.
At that time, many Syrians did not realize their demands were limited by the countries which took the gains of the revolution for their own good. Those countries were trying to take control of the training and preparations within the limits of breaking the power balance of the regime and the revolution without accomplishing any military victory against it. This is what we understand from “Non-killing equipment” phrase, which aims to “Change Assad’s considerations” according to John Curry!
The foreign opposition strategy was based on overthrowing the regime by any mean without any vision, practical strategy, or route map. There was no practical visions on the national democratic state structure and how to reach it either. This means stopping at where Sharif Hussein was about 100 years ago, gaining the freedom from the Ottoman occupation without freedom itself. The road to democracy and liberty needs a project that considers the abilities, structure, cultures, and components of the community. Moreover, the eligibility would be examined to accomplish the historical merits in order to be purified from the savageness of dictatorship.
There are many reasons behind the absence of true policy and leadership in the political mind such as the inability of the foreign opposition forces to comprehend the nature of the international conflict and the position of the Syrian crisis in this conflict until now. There is also a case of unawareness regarding facts on the situation in reality and the changes occurred in the Syrian community after most opposition left the country. Moreover, the failure in receiving what the foreign opposition called for, such as military interference, safe corridors, international protection, and buffer zones, is only a proof of the Political sterility that the Syrians inside have paid the double price. The fair case is not enough to guarantee victory and does not change the countries’ prospects that have their own interests. Furthermore, possessing arms without planning will not lead to any results except for a dark future.
What we declare does not mean the main target of overthrowing the regime should be abandoned, but it means that there should be a search on the machineries of the regime removal. Those machineries allow the country to be on the route of establishing the powerful state of Syria that the citizens dream of.
Two Matters are Linked Together till the Revolution is complete:
In this national tragedy, the major countries are trying to freeze the relations and power balance or support the structure in order to stabilize a hostile power balance between different political, military, and sect groups and to impose geographic division on the authority and wealth. These would push the country into a long term intensive conflict turning Syria to a completely failed state with ethnic sect struggle in an attempt to improve their positions on the domestic level, where the regional powers are trying to impose their agendas over the conflicting sides. Such a solution would end with nothing but implanting seeds of an endless open struggle and stopping the chances of a social and political development (Lebanon and Bosnia).
Even in the peaceful circumstances, such agreements would work on encouraging the domestic powers and war princes of all sides to take advantage of the democratic process in order to support their share of power balance, like Cambodia, Sudan, South of Sudan, and Angola. This state of conflict simply reflects the coerce character of the power balance in reality, while the civil and democratic powers are being completely marginalized. Hence, any agreement adopted, not only depending on the domestic power balance, but also the timing and priorities of the role performed by the foreign power at the time of settling the deals.
The attempt of having peace by any chance, under the means of responding to the immediate humanistic needs, can empower the control of the most extremist sides among the struggling forces while the civil forces get weaker and lose any ability of making progress.
Furthermore, the foreign powers attempt of influencing the incidents route should concentrate on giving opportunities for the moderate forces which struggle to unite the country and enforce it. These opportunities are not for those who are trying to dissolve the convention of the state and society.
The incidents route alludes to the following points:
- What the regime has done has ended with nothing but failure.
- The matters are stabilizing to be in a state of actual country division. Furthermore, instability is growing and spreading to the nearby countries such as Turley, Iran, or Iraq, regardless of what interests these countries may find in case of the struggle continues.
- It is very hard to be in the zero-sum game for the good of the opposition. This means the opposition would have an entire victory in return for the regime’s complete defeat and weakening of the political social powers that stand behind it.
- There is no chance for critical interference of the foreign fighting forces on behalf of the opposition like how the NATO interfered in the Balkans. Bashar Assad is well aware of that.
One of the following results of these points is that the best chance provided by the international efforts for the Syrian future relies in helping it move to negotiations. They need to realize as well that these negotiations are not in the hands of Syria alone because this country has become unable to support itself in getting out of the black hole that the regime pushed it into.
It is clear that the mentioned scenarios do not serve the interest of Syria. It is also obvious that if Syria is left for the spontaneous factors and the dark forces, it would go closer to the seventh scenario bit by bit.
Herewith, the opposition cannot be sufficient with repeating the necessity of Assad’s removal as a strategy, while Assad simply declares that he would not leave. At the same time, he keeps escaping forward and gathers all the needed resources and tools to push the country into a state that resembles the seventh scenario.
The main challenges rely on:
1- Determining how to provide the unitary state services to be the founding base of transit and rule in the future.
2- The destiny of the individuals committed to the government during the decades of Assad rule.
3- The timing of the international forces involvement, since visualizing the move to negotiations on the new Syria is hard without them.
The important issue is that the USA attempt of overthrowing the regime would go harmoniously with the Russian attempt of preserving the continuousness of their interests. As the pressure on Russia grows to leave space for development of arranging maters, the number of the victims keeps rising as the Akhdar Ibrahimi keeps warning more about of the country’s collapse. Although the USA does not wish to ruin its deals with Russia and Iran, it seems that many international powers have become less patient and more concerned about the serial collapse in the Middle East. As Syria seems “Immature” for the negotiations today, the negation scenario should grow though gathering efforts. Otherwise, Syria would not develop but becomes a core of decay.
The test that faces the international community, mainly USA, is the one embodied by the Syrian situation. It relies in testing its diplomatic leadership against the current situation and its ability of determining the least bad results, plus the costs and choosing a mixture of appropriate diplomatic, economic, and compulsory tools to make them possible.
This situation requires a very accurate evaluation of the regional and domestic players, while it might be obvious who “The bad guys” are. Finding the new formula of the state and form of the new born is the principal budding challenge. It is important for the international community to help support a credible operation, not choose the winners.
Developing a successful political operation in Syria requires a strong powerful influence since authority does not come from loyalty. On the other hand, there is a lot of loss and scattering in the social structure.
We tried above to prove that the complete collapse of the loyalty system and the social and economic structure has become very imminent, not only on the national, state, or military level, but also on the domestic level. Moreover, our observation on the Syrian situation alludes to a quick collapse that would destroy the social structure and scattering it in a catastrophic way. It may cause the end of the relations in the entire society.
To interfere or not to interfere:
The military interference might be the least flexible solution in such cases for many reasons. Facing the option of interference or no interference at all, the American policy is staggered between the nasty interference that Bush chose for Iraq and the option of turning back for horrible genocides as Clinton did with the Great Lakes after massacres killed about 800,000 people using knives and cleavers.
There is moral dullness of the international society plus “Loss of appetite for war”, especially the west towards the Syrian crisis. They remind us of the same dullness the western countries showed towards Hitler’s crimes, his occupation of half Europe, and the Holocaust crimes. It was after the First World War and before the international society retrieves its “appetite”.
The “Tired of war” excuse practically hides the fact that the American decision makers do not wish to ruin the new Yalta arrangements, where they go on smoothly along with Russia and Iran. Meanwhile, they are turning their backs to their international responsibilities in a dangerous manner that may abolish every horizon of a new stable international system in the Middle East, and establish once again “Peace after peace”.
After two years of the Syrian uprising, it is clear that it is not possible for these tools alone to give any true results. The unfinished work does not give only incomplete but also reversed results in politics, likewise what happened after the destiny of the Ottoman Empires heritage left undetermined on the Treaty of Versai, after the First World War. Consequently, the region stayed on fire for 100 years. The practical route of the incidents becomes more dangerous while noticing the failure of the USA in using its influence with its main allies to control its behavior towards the conflict and its results.
The 2003 Liberian experience shows that the only possible positive exit was to avoid the military interference as much as possible. Afterwards, the diplomatic and military support from Nigeria, Ghana, and the Economic Community of West African States was boosted, followed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This process created a transitional plan for two years, which led Charles Taylor to be removed from his position, and to establish a transitional stage for elections.
In the Syrian crisis, the American diplomacy has focused on gathering a large circle of 100 countries in “Friends of Syria” that would gather periodically outside the United Nations framework to avoid the Russian and Chinese Vito. Accordingly, the United States tried to assist in establishing a collation of Syrians who mostly represent the overseas powers in hope for uniting different opposition powers and gaining international recognition on a wide scale. However, what the USA is trying to do seem contradictory. While Washington is letting the Russian allies bleed till death, it is leaving Russia the option of cutting the lifeline.
On the Russian side, Moscow will not do that unless it recognizes the policies that the new Syria would adopt.
During the last two years, the regime tried to assure that there are no possibilities of building a national Syria union without it, whereas the incomplete American game proved that it serves only Moscow.
As for the Russians, they have proved their limited influence on extracting the Russian solution in Syria and they are unable to present an exit of the crisis. Since the USA was able to overthrow Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia by the cell phone diplomacy, it delivered this phone to Russia and Iran today.
The United States is going through a difficult test in the Middle East where success does not seem possible in the Syrian crisis. Things are moving to a transitional stage filled with violence and it needs wisdom and guidance. Additionally, it needs to encourage the least worst consequences through adopting a combination of economic diplomatic methods and violent tools. Such a complicated policy requires an accurate evaluation of the situation in reality and bringing in complex factors as elements of the evaluation.
The criminal side that should be disposed is obvious but the winning side in this struggle has not become an actual choice.
This proves that Syria is no longer able to extract a solution for its crisis. It is well-known that diplomacy needs the leverages that come from the availability of power resources on the negotiation table. Meanwhile, the foreign interference seems to be the nastiest option with the least luck in accomplishing stability for different reasons.
As the United States keeps supporting whom it chose to be the winning part in the Egyptian field, it is still undecided about revealing its aims and motivations for its allies in Syria. The question is: If the United States wants victory for its allies through supporting them, does it want the regime to fall or does it want a solution through a political mediation?
If Washington wants to contribute in forming the new Syria, it will need to contribute in determining the kind of creatures that would come out of this struggle. At this point, we should declare that the American practical modesty is at stake. Modesty is the essence of good politics and diplomacy, plus it is the only tool that remains on table.
Many previous experiences refer to the extreme ambiguity in the concepts of making the American decision, whether it was in the relation to the domestic opposition blocs with all the problems they have, or in the way of dealing with the armed elements, including those involved in the terrorists acts and the way of defining their roles in the future political process.
It is important to evaluate the pros and cons in our attempt of achieving a safe landing in defeating the regime forces process, confessing that the regime’s brutality has mainly contributed in turning the demonstrators into armed rebels, then to war princes.
Despite what is said about the armed groups’ extremism that are related to their agendas, domestic behavior, the funding hands, or the fact of their ambitions are in simply reaching power, it is necessary to know the attitude and interests of the different sides; especially it is hard to find another Nilsson Mandela after all the violence that the regime carried out, even if the armed opposition was solid or some were committing violations against the rights of innocent citizens.
We realize the legitimate complications accompanying the dilemma of communicating with the armed groups. Nonetheless, the principal exchanges carried out in Syria makes it necessary for citizens and policy makers to retain flexibility with the real players on ground.
It is difficult to imagine how the effect the international society could have on the positive changes without the participation of the fighters. Therefore, it is better for the international powers to contribute those forces to enforce the moderate currents on their sides and to clarify the capability of power and violence. In this case, they would reach a solution and go back to politics afterwards, such as the experiences in Ireland and Basque in Spain.
Avoiding relations with the armed groups would actually marginalize the moderate forces instead of supporting them. In case the civil powers could not and cannot overcome their scattering and the absence of the political logic on their side, the armed groups would remain declaring their right to be at the negotiation table.
Therefore, there should be a vision of a strategic initiative providing guarantees for any agreement which works on committing all sides to stick to their commitments. The basic point is that the negotiations are the process of the cases which need to release a gathering international interaction with goals and priorities, which specify the details and route of the negations, plus the goals of each stage in a precise and clear matter.
The Bosnian experience after Dayton refers to the hidden obstacles in hiding the nationalistic and sectarian extremists. The arrangements of the transitional stage should be immediately separated from the civil peace preparations, plus fire should be held and arms should be removed. Hence, it is necessary to start now a negotiation operation of a constitutional document based on national gathering agreements. This would be essential in order to establish a democratic decentralized pluralist state allowing to restore the national social convention as a main tool to stop extremism and war princes, and to permit the civil forces to retrieve control on the social, political, and economic fields.
In Syria, there are important civil associations including the civil administrative services besides the “Hidden security state”. The United States, Russia, and the international community need to clarify their vision of the country’s fate in case of the armed forces directly conquers and the regime completely downfalls. This is so because there is an essential difference between trying to overthrow the regime and creating a positive transitional stage for the period after Assad.
Some of these questions establish a lot of the attitudes of the neutral sections of the Syrian people. If emptiness, chaos, and complete collapse of the state should be avoided, negotiations with the state men are needed. The available chance created by the current change in the power balance should be taken and the transition should be supported by negotiations.
There is no doubt that Assad and his group will be defeated and they need to leave the political area. However, the political route is positively the way of taking advantage of the military success and pursuing it, not an alternative for victory in the battlefield. Furthermore, a political opposition should be enforced to make sure that negotiations do not always succeed and mostly their successes do not last.
As long as the revolution forces do not have the opportunity of knocking out the regime, the principal task would be maintaining the political mobilization active, in case we are still looking forward to have the map we recognize as historical Syria.
The Facts of Imminent Dissolution of Syria
The situation in Syria is moving rapidly to the state’s ,down and the geographical dissolution. They have been prepared through civil situations settled by time:
- As a result of the reality on the military level plus being a dilemma that leaves us unable to visualize critical changes on the front lines.
- The interests of the regional powers.
- A complete ,down of the national union and the society’s conventions.
Description of the Current Reality:
North of Syria:
- The remains of the regime, such as the authorities association and army, are being filtered.
- Turkey has played and is still obviously playing for the interests of creating two entities:
The first is in the north, A Zone, where the Muslim Brotherhood are trying to dominate through the Islamic battalions and a caretaker government that has speeded up the ,down of the country in the north as the interests are related to Turkey.
The second is in the north eastern, B Zone, by a Turkish arrangement with Barzani and the Kurds and it has been established by ground facts and political alliance, whereas the interests are related to Kurdistan, in Iraq.
South West (C Zone):
Bashar Assad’s forces are focused in the old and modern Damascus and they are trying their best to keep him protected by the Syrian Lebanese boarders through contacting Hezbollah. The forces spread on the corridor in the west of Damascus- Homs highway, extending along with Kalamon Mountains. Additionally, there are large joint army forces and the national defense army, voluntary Alawites forces, plus Hezbollah spreading through the boarders until Lake Qattinah in the south west of Homs.
The aspects refer to:
1- Penetrating some Israeli troops on the ground zone at Golan, D Zone.
2- Arming about 6,000 young people and concentrating them in Al-Suwayda, E Zone.
3- Gradual Domination of Daraa City, F Zone, by the domestic Salafi and Brotherhood battalions.
The Mid of Syria (G Zone):
These areas are distinctive for their demographic and geographic nature permitting to be an open battlefield between their components. These areas are: Hama and Homs that includes Krak des Chevaliers, Al-Suqaylabiyah District, Nasiriyah, Talkalakh, and Aridah. Large cleansing operations based on sectarianism are expected to be carried out there.
The Middle Eastern:
It extends on the Euphrates River line, starting from Raqqah in the north down to Abu Kamal in the south. It is under the dominance of tribal Brotherhood Salafi Islamic movements and overlaps with the area of Al-Jazira in the north and the Syrian Desert reaching the borders of Hama and Homs in the west. Turkey is trying to penetrate the components of this line to join the area with the Sunni entity in the northern west.
Unstable joined entities:
None of these regions have the settlement elements as new entities unless they join the nearby countries. Hence, the Alawite entity boarders are revealed more obviously to include the coast and Damascus, which extends to Lebanon through Hermel and Beqaa, reaching Homs- Lebanon highway, where the Hezbollah forces are spreading on both sides of the boarders. They are running the borders points
The stability of this area requires cleansing and making the Sunnis emigrate from the coast line and areas around the borders.
Relative study on the Syrian Puzzle
The current Syrian puzzle has been created by the deep confrontation by its different levels between the regime and the opposition and revolution forces. It is a state which is created when the systems face political crisis and violent changes under the pressure of the opposition. Syria is not the first case in this context, and it will not be the last. Hence, it is useful to mention how similar scenarios were created in the past to summarize the morals which can benefit us in understanding the Syrian situation and the future of the country.
The current situation allows us to imagine a set of scenarios and collapses that most can create great risks for the regional and international situation. They can also create the future of the gathering Syrian nation as we are used to in the past century. This nation is where Syrians are paying the price of this catastrophe whose results would form their future and the future of their nation for the next long decades.
There are many possible results for such struggles. However, it does not mean that those results are the final ones of the struggle that may take unstable and even violent transitional routes in later stages. We are mentioning here some of the scenarios that some revolutions went into:
1- Solid revolutionary structure replaces an old structure after a violent conflict, such as Ethiopia in 1974 and Russia in 1917. Both had organized and clear political leadership.
2- A velvet revolution where the regime collapses in the middle of the street power, foreign pressure, dissents in leadership, such as Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, and the Soviet Union in 1991. In the Egyptian example, the velvet revolutions form an unanticipated route.
3- The change of the regime’s head as the country’s enters a long transitory route which stands on the old structure of the state, such as Yemen in 2011.
4- The regime’s success in terminating the revolution by extreme bloody oppression, such as Sri Lanka in 2009.
5- A long transitory negotiation route after the revolution, South Africa in 1992-1994, and Burma in 2010).
6- A long bloody struggle that requires obligatory foreign interference and imposing peace, such as Bosnia in 1995.
7- A long civil war that dissolves the state, such as Somalia in 1991.
However, there are other courses that can be tracked. It is possible:
1- To evolve to the period of deadlock for a long time, then to dividing the country into ethnic, sectarian, or regional enclaves.
2- For matters to produce arrangements of self – government and decentralized country, or partial division of authority. Meanwhile, the central state stays fine, such as Itche in Indonesia and Mindanow in the Philippines.
3- Or the domestic and foreign pressure to gather, make the struggle standstill, and control the power balance in the umbrella of an open division of the authority based on religions or ethnicities after crystalizing the roles of the political groups in the power structure and division. This would be processed after taking the country into “Peace after peace” and distorting the chances of political development, such as Lebanon, Bosnia, and Sudan, where the effective domestic powers remain to try to reform a political harmonic formula. This would reflect the compulsory attempt of pushing the struggle into a deadlock based on the demands of the international situations. It would practically lead to a failed state and a fragile community, where the foreign agendas play a principal role under the excuse of “Peace by any chance” and under the pressure of responding to immediate humanitarian needs.
There is a resemblance between the Syrian state and the similar sates of the sixth and seventh scenario, such as:
- The international community showed no actual interest in the crisis in neither Somalia nor reestablishing the state. This has contributed in making it a failed state.
- The dependence of solving the crisis and establishing a unified state on foreign factors and agendas has deepened the crisis and made it a dilemma.
- Parts of Somalia have had better relations with the nearby countries than their relations with the other Somali regions.
- The dissolving tribal relations rooted in the Somali community accompanied by the failure of producing an alternative is similar to what happened in Syria. This is where the Baath Party disassembled the traditional society structure but prohibited forming civil alternative community structure. It resulted complete scattering of the society plus the lack of many solidarity and loyalty machineries. The community has become only individuals without the minimum limit of the alternative loyalty systems.
- Under the failure of the economic and development and the central government in Somalia, some regions tried to support the division with or without previous intentions of separation. It was necessarily needed in some nonviolent regions to pass the region affairs under the absence of the central government. At the same time, they declare they would join the central government as soon as it is established.
- In Iraq, demobilizing armed without offering alternative jobs or salaries pushed many to form armed groups abolishing the efforts of civil peace and national conciliation.
- Reconciliation and compromising.
- The army and the old bureaucratic services are considered to be the basic columns of creating any state. Without them, the state cannot be united and the development cycle cannot be turned again. The failure of the Iraqi experience proved that trying to establish a country from scratch would be catastrophic. Furthermore, it is not possible to disconnect the past completely. In Russia and Communist countries, the army has not been dissolved in spite of changing the regimes, so the establishment process went more smoothly than in Iraq regardless of the difficulties. There is no question that the Syrian army will need to be refined and renewed to make its preparation suitable and its leaders would be observed, and its aims would serve the higher national interest.
- We notice that there is a crucial difference between the Syrian and Lebanese cases. In Lebanon, there were noticeable leaders of the sects that spoke on behalf of them during the civil war. These leaders were connected to foreign sides that contributed in the long duration of the war. On the other hand, it helped in the possibility of putting the bases of war like determining the locations of the battlefields. Moreover, those leaderships created the main sides on the table of negotiations when circumstances allowed that. In the Syrian case, there are no clear sides that speak for the sects, and it is not possible to determine a clear attitude that gathers one sect for common aims describing their ambitions. Sectarian leaderships might be created when wars remain longer, but this depends mainly on the scenarios that the crisis would go into.
- We conclude from the Yugoslavian example that the most important reasons for failing in making a national gathering identity are failing in accomplishing development and the different levels of dictatorship and discrimination towards certain nationalities. Furthermore, ignoring the demands of ethnicities and marginalized areas was another reason for this problem.
- The extreme violence and brutality the military dictators practiced against the first demonstrations has contributed in the dissolving process. On the other hand, the minimum level of order and national agreement political structure was not present.
- The foreign interference has had an important role in irritating the feelings towards the collapse and rupture of relations. These are the factors that speed up the process of breaking the national state.
The two sides of the struggle in the Syrian crisis would part within their options towards pushing the conflict into any of the possible scenarios:
While the revolution forces are headed by the National Coalition, the peaceful mobilization powers along with the main bloc of the fighting forces are all trying to preserve the three previous elements: The national agreement, the army structure, and the government and administration status. On the other hand, the regime is trying by all means to:
1- Deepen sectarianism.
2- Keep the state administration keys within hands so they would collapse in case of its absence.
3- Divide the army into local leaderships and emerge the “Shabiha” in the army letting them attack the society and commit some of the most horrifying crimes. All these caused the Syrian army to be Nazi militia. It is clear that this process has not completed yet, but the regime is trying excessively to push the army towards that.
Based on these, the Syrian crisis goes on as the chaos and breakup tendencies that Bashar Assad talked about continue. On the other hand, the defensive attempts of the revolution and community forces carry on avoiding the civil war and the state and society breakup. There is no doubt that the missions of the revolution forces are tremendous, which are:
1- Banning agitating speeches and sectarian practices, besides keeping the national union as the apple of the eye.
2- Maintaining the state structure and the associations in the supporting and opposing areas.
3- Planning to recreate the national army starting from now, in an attempt to develop serious communication machineries with the honest national blocs and elements in the army associations.
The destiny of the regime is determined. However, the destiny of the conflict and country does not seem determined at all. For the time being, the transitional experience of reaching a state of national agreement does not promise to succeed within the previous conditions. All these are giving the revolution powers critical, essential, and challenging tasks.
As Syria goes entirely into this new stage, it seems that matters are going into two opposite directions: As the regime is falling apart in the north, it is trying to concentrate its forces in the south and west. Meanwhile, the regime supports the decentralized character of the decision so war local princes would be born connecting their interests to the continuousness of the struggle. This would threat the army association to , into militias supporting the government.
The general characteristics are summarized by the absence of leadership accompanied by having different agendas and variety of funds resources. This would go the same with both supporters and opponents, whereas the west and Russia are attempting to keep the struggle low paced till it matures.
Although there is no question about the current conflict shift into a strategic sectarianism war is unquestionable, avoiding it would need a struggle, persistent vigilance, and an energetic leadership.
The spontaneous route of the incidents does not serve the revolution aims, especially within the regime’s efforts of pushing things into a sectarianism war and scattering the opposition forces. In case of leaving things as they are, the risks of sectarianism war would be present. If the Syrians had not been well-aware and their national structure had been solid enough, the route of the incidents would have established sectarianism in the revolution. Nonetheless, the society’s attentiveness and seeing the peaceful harmonious civil course is still holding the country until now.
That would leave the leadership of the Syrian Collation serious tasks to be studied and analyzed. Later, they would be put into practice to face those risks because the regime and the spontaneity of the mobilization are working in the opposite direction.
The weaknesses balance should be broken in favor of the revolution soon before the state and army break up, even if the current suppression against the revolution by the foreign powers carries on.
In other words, the present balance should be broken before the state collapses and the army completely ,s. If this happens, this victory could provide a powerful foundation that can be relied on in reproducing a national agreement. It would combine all the Syrians who have not been involved in killing and who work in the main structure of the country and community in order to reestablish a harmonious transitory legitimacy. It would allow the country to go into reestablishing the new republic as well and preserve the union of the Syrian land and the national umbrella Syrian convention.
The First Scenario:
It assumes that the regime would maintain its abilities to act like a state regardless of the fact that these associations may suffer from extreme weakness and radical decline in performance. Additionally, there is indirect support from the neutral bloc of the community, which is avoiding getting drifted towards extreme violence and sectarian war. Moreover, the Syrians have not reached the state of complete disconnection between different religions and sects in spite all tensions. Thus, it has not come to a dead end between them. It is possible to fix the , caused when the regime falls through imposing judicial justice upon those who committed crimes and were involved in spilling the Syrian blood. This scenario assumes the fall of the regime after uniting the political and military factors within keeping the state and the national political conventional structures, plus taking over Damascus by the Free Syrian Army before the breakup of the official army and the unitary state.
The Second Scenario:
Leaving matters as they are in a relaxed way is not acceptable by the history lessons mentioned, nor by the reality of the incidents route. In case of doing so, the revolution and the community are not going to be protected from the possibilities of war and sectarianism, and the conflict is left to be resolved in favor of the revolution side though a series of long costly battles, it is possible that Syria would go to the chaos scenario which practically means the uncontrolled sectarian fight. It would go into the dimensions of a strategic sectarian war as a result of the scattering status, the lack of union and leadership on all levels. Moreover, the country would turn into a complete chaotic condition and the state convention would come to end, and the variety of fund resources in each sect, group, or region. From there, we would reach the “Everyone’s war against everyone” that includes all sides.
There is a possibility of sectarian forces remaining united on sectarian and ethnic bases and going through regional and international agreement, so we can reach a state of strategic sectarian confrontation inside the framework of the Syrian sect, as Akhdar Ibrahimi calls it. The second scenario assumes the fall of Damascus after the army convention and state , down. The army would be disintegrated because of many factors:
Firstly: The army divided into leaderships of military regions that work almost independently from the center, even in the terms of catering and strategic tactical leadership.
Secondly: The lack of resources, the absence of law, and the spread of the Mafia relations.
Thirdly: The progressive military dissents and the gradual establishment of the sectarianism character of the army.
Fourthly: Obedience collapse and the absence of military honor components of what is the official army is carrying out.
Fifthly: The incomplete trust of the leadership.
Sixthly: The phenomenon of the army attitude is based on total personal gains and the attempt of survival, regardless of the regime’s interests. On the civil authority level, there are facts that speed up its collapse such as loyalty end, corruption, the living situation decay, the labor environment collapse, plus the rising feelings of fear, vengeance, and sectarianism hatred and the elective funds for the armed groups. All these give the possibilities of those forces positions which work on the conditions of extremist sectarian ideology and the lack of gathering political leadership in the revolution.
We believe that the chaotic status in the country may result the regime downfall accompanied by the army and state association. In the absence of true leadership of the revolution, the process of establishing the new legitimacy based on the national unanimity would face huge obstacles, which means a bad future of the country. The army would change from a national army with prestige to personal bodyguards defending the regime survival. It would lead to worsening the downfall of the social standards standing on justice and would threaten the community with a true division based on sectarianism.
Moreover, the continuousness of emigrating from the sectarianism areas contact between the Sunnis and the Alawites would pave the way for the ethnic and sectarianism cleansing.
All the mentioned factors would lead to contributing the country in a civil ethnic sectarian war manipulated by the princes of war and the conflicting regional powers. The tottered and scattered domestic loyalty system and the collapse of the domestic economy would lead Syria to the danger of a similar end to Somalia and dissolving the society to the smallest units. That would cause a state of fighting not only on the level of power and authority, but also on the livelihood, which would be the worst case of all scenarios.
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