FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Reappraising the UN Security Council Strategy on Syria

Despite the U.S.-Russian arranged cease fire further  political progress  towards peace and stability in Syria will be hindered by elements of the Geneva agreement embodied in the UN Security Council (SC) resolution of last December.

Careful scrutiny of the resolution that incorporated the  statement of  the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), adding commentary from the Arab League and the EU, reveals conflicting interests that will likely block an accord between the Syrian state and non-Jihadist Sunni  organizations and fighting units. The resolution is also indicative of the major powers enabling their clients to limit the role of the Syrian electorate in the drafting of a new constitution.

The basis for conflicting interests between Washington and Moscow is the proposed structural relationship between the current Syrian State and an agreed upon opposition given the unsettled status of Assad.

Although the Russians had earlier offered  to exclude Bashar Al Assad from any role in the rewriting of the Syrian constitution, they have long rejected his ouster as president, viewing it as an external imposition of regime change. But Bashar, as his father Hafiz before him, rules through the Baath Party. Though he dominates the party and state apparatus, the regime would remain intact after his departure as it would if he died peacefully in bed. This would not be comparable to regime change in Iraq or Libya.

The Russians could- if they deemed it strategically desirable- given its continual role insuring  the survival of the Syrian state, persuade Assad to leave office. His exodus would greatly enhance cooperation from Sunni and secular opposition forces.  Moreover the  removal of Assad would eliminate a catalyst for revival of Jihadism even after the defeat of those forces in the present.

The SC however proposed a transitional government incorporating the existing Syrian State and opposition groups and this new interim government diminishing Baath state power could arguably be regarded as regime change This greatly reduces the likelihood Moscow would force Assad’s withdrawal. It is reasonable to assume that the reason Moscow agreed to an interim government was their intention that Assad would remain as head of state.

The likelihood of  an understanding between the U.S. and Russia would be greater if the basic structure of the Syrian State not be altered before popular elections with Assad’s resignation being the quid pro quo.  Moscow realizes that even substantial military gains by the  Syrian state and their allies will require an alliance with opposition groups to gain victory and maintain peace and stability after the defeat of the jihadists.

The task assigned to an interim government by the SC to defeat the Jihadists could be accomplished  through a joint military command of the Baathist State and opposition groups. This council or command could organize joint or separate military operations and also agree on the administration of services as well as oversight in liberated areas. This should be a major function of the collaborative political process. The Syrian state and the opposition would remain separate political units but in alliance for the common goal of defeating the Jihadists.

Difficulties in persuading their regional allies and clients to accept   the suggested change in the political process described above could be overcome if these changes are perceived by the U.S. and Russia as necessary compromises to achieve an outcome vital to their national interests.This is exemplified by the U.S. nuclear agreement with Iran despite strong opposition by the Saudis and Israelis and the reluctant acceptance by Turkey.

Another highly questionable element of the SC resolution is its endorsement of the interim government, comprising the current Syrian state and the opposition, “set(ting) a schedule and a process” for drafting a new constitution preceding elections. There are no further stipulations regarding the proposed constitution.

The political units comprising such a government, given their histories have dubious credentials for the task. This was patently an effort by the two major powers and their regional allies to bargain over the shaping of the structure of a Syrian state to their own advantage. This would create doubt among the Syrian population about the thoroughness of democratization, an indispensable condition for long term stability.

An obvious alternative would be- with the defeat of the Jihadists- the establishment of an administrative body created by the Baathist state and opposition groups with UN oversight, to enable the Syrian people to directly vote for a parliament which would convene initially as a constituent assembly or to vote for representatives to a constitutional convention. In the latter case a parliamentary election would follow the drafting of a constitution. In either case a public referendum is also an option.

More articles by:

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail