Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Challenges Ahead: Ending the Killing, Reclaiming, and Resurrecting Syria

Now that the immediate issue of Syria's chemical weapons is being dealt with absent a US-led military strike using diplomatic avenues, what about the OTHER issue?  It's not exactly an elephant in the room.  I'm referring to the statistic that more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the past 30 months by non-chemical weapons.  It's a horrifying number, and the civil war has been raging for far too long.  

This begs the question: What to do to stop the killing?  More explicitly, what can be done to end the violence, relcaim sovereignty from a dictatorial masochistic leader and an influx of terrorists, and ultimately resurrect Syria from its failing state status?

There is no easy solution.  Syria is one hot mess.  So what suggestions are out there?  

Let's take a look at a few of the proposals: 

Syrian Opposition Proposal: Further Curtail the Regime

According to a statement by the formally recognized Syrian opposition group, "The Syrian National Coalition insists that the ban of use of chemical weapons, which led to the loss of lives of more than 1,400 Syrian civilians, must be extended to ban the use of the regime air power and ballistic weapons against population centers, in addition to the redeployment of heavy weapons away from population centers, and the prohibition of use of these weapons to bomb Syrian cities and villages." 

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Response: Power to the Rebels

In November 2012, the GCC formally recognized the Syrian National Coalition as a coalition representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Syrian regime.  Such formal recognition allowed for supply of weapons to rebel fighters.  The GCC continues to support and arm the Syrian National Coalition, were supportive of the threatened US-led military strike, and oppose the limited reach of the US-Russia agreement.  

Turkey: Force Negotiation and Plan for Regime Change

In the aftermath of the August 21st chemical weapons attack and in the midst of President Obama's campaign for military intervention, Turkey urged the United States to make it a robust intervention - forceful enough "to bring Assad's regime to the negotiating table."  Now that the US strike is off the table, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has voiced his concerns to Secretary of State John Kerry, reportedly saying that "the human tragedy could worsen if dissuasive measures were not to be taken against [the Syrian] army."  Kerry and Davutoğluare are set to meet in Paris on September 16th for further discussion about Syria.

An Uncertain Future with a Window of Opportunity

Many challenges lie head for Syria and its neighbors.  However, there is a window of opportunity.  As the Syrian National Coalition pointed out, we can take the US-Russia agreement further by banning the regime's armed tactics against its people.  And then, as Turkey suggested (albeit short of military might), let's see if we can force/coerce President Assad to the negotiating table.  And, hopefully, someone can devise a face-saving exit plan for Assad and his advisors so that, ultimately, a more representative and more humane government can assume leadership, and resurrect Syria.

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