Syria at a crossroad: Libya or Egypt style?
The Syrian situation is going to get worse before it will get any better, and the risk is to see again the involvement of foreign powers in the country. Assad is attached to power as Gaddafi, as well any other sultan, president or king in the area.
No one can deny the brutality of the Assad’s regime and the persistent violation of human rights in Syria (which is not new). However, once again, is up to the Syrian people to get rid of Assad and fulfil their destiny.
When this Arab uprising started, everyone was comparing it to what happened in Eastern Europe after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but unlike that appeared soon that this is not a real revolution but just a series of demonstration and the involvement of western powers is taking away the action from the people.
In Syria, like in Libya, people have simply had enough of dictatorial powers and are trying to change their future, but they also need to be aware of the danger from seeking help from those powers that appeased the status quo in Middle East and, only now, for propaganda and interest beyond the humanitarian feeling are trying to put their hands in the area.
Unlike Libya, Syria is a very dangerous place to stage an international intervention and could be the start of an all out war in the area. Syria has been always a key player in the 60 years long dispute that involve Lebanon, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Gaza, Jordan, Iran, plus Turkey, the Kurds, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Assad took power from his father, The Leon of Damascus, a ruthless man able to influence Lebanon politics for long time, survive any attempt from Israel to destroy his leadership and at the time supported by the Soviet Union. Assad’s father built the Syria of today ruled by the Baath party and based on a secular state the guaranteed a free zone from Islamism or terrorist groups. This has been always a key point in the foreign powers accepting, reluctantly, his rule, and they had to rely on Syrian involvement to guarantee the resolution of Lebanon conflict and the transition to democracy.
The fact that Syria is important to the stability of the area has been demonstrated in the last and shameful attempt from Israel to attack Southern Lebanon. The defeat from Hezbollah, the intervention of Syria and Iran in playing down the Hezbollah aspiration for a further war, but also the military support they received was a clear demonstration that any change in the area cannot be achieved without Syria interpellation.
By contrary, if you want to change Syria, you will need to take into account all the other actors in the area and if you stage a war the consequences will be far beyond the Damascus change of regime. The recent rise in tones from the western powers (but saying no military intervention is on the table) is at the moment welcomed as long is will be limited to pressure Assad, sanction his regime, limit his arm purchases, isolating him internationally. However, must avoid any direct military intervention or fly zone, and whilst supporting the uprising trying to prevent an enlargement of the conflict from Iranian and Israeli interference.
Russia is clearly hostile of any intervention for the following reasons:
1. Is a long standing ally, with political, military and economic ties;
2. Has interest in keeping the area safe;
3. Prevent intervention from Iran and Israel;
4. Avoid intervention from western powers in the area, as a new war will bring instability in the central Asia and Caucasus area, destabilizing Moscow’s control;
5. Pursue always a policy of non interference in the internal affairs.
Russia will put a clear veto at the UN for any military intervention and this has to be seen as a gesture based on ‘real politic’ against false humanitarianism and adventurous actions.
The recent idea sponsored by western powers of a Turkish involvement is the clear demonstration of how distant they are from reality, and how the situation could slip easily from their hands. Turkey has clearly no intention to intervene outside its borders: could se Turkey in direct war against Syria, instigate Islamist groups is the country, offer to the PKK Kurdish insurgence a momentum.
The offer of a possible passport to join the EU is like a ransom against Turkish aspiration for a place in Bruxelles, which is now long overdue.
Of all the actors in the area, the main concerns relates to Israel, Hamas, Lebanon, Hezbollah and Iran. These groups of powers and movements need to be put aside and kept on the distance from any intervention in the Syrian matters, and could be achieved only if the Syrian people will shape their destiny.
The Arab uprising, as a real revolution, has been successful in Tunisia and Egypt, where non external involvement has been staged, and both have been somehow bloodless revolution. The case of Syria, like Libya, will require people to shift their strategy from demonstration to real uprising and revolution, meaning the will be a high price to be paid for their freedom. As History witnessed, no revolution ever achieved a complete freedom and independence when foreign powers were involved.
Syria’s destiny is in the hand of its people and in Assad’s mind: the first need to take up arms the second to decide its fate, whether to follow the Gaddafi example for martyrdom or be realistic stepping down for his benefit but mainly for his country and Syrian people.