The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Salem Syria Scenarios

Paul Salem is right on with his analysis below – although I think he underestimates the ability/desire of the other syrian minorities to “stay out” of a civil war – by definition the civil war will engulf everyone… there is NO fence sitting.

What is key in his analysis is the idea that THERE IS A third way which Turkey is leading. Obama folks have unfortunately not put juice in this effort, it seems – certainly not publicly – and therefore have the ridiculous and unenviable position of being essentially nowhere – wanting the sands of time to sweep away assad, kind of saying that, not really pushing for it, not engaging, not having a road map out there for a reform process – neither here nor there and therefore skewered by their opponents on the right and left… and indeed, the first time i agree with Lee Smith – they are making things WORSE and of course squandering opportunities.

“…Looking ahead, there seem to be two paths open to Syria. Either the regime will accept a new deal based on serious political reform and inclusion, or the country will drift toward civil war.

It is not clear that a political deal is still possible after so much blood has been shed, but Turkey is still urging the Assad regime to accept a political package in which—in exchange for Assad’s survival—the regime opens up the political process, expands public liberties, forms a national unity government along with the opposition and organizes meaningful elections. Such a process would imply a new deal between the Alawi minority and Sunni majority and would involve not only Turkish mediation but also approval by Saudi Arabia—not to mention tacit agreement from the United States.

This would be a major success for Turkey, a whole new level of influence for it in the Middle East. Any deal would also probably include stipulations from Riyadh and Washington that Damascus put more distance between itself and Iran. Although a complete break is not in the offing, Syria could reign in Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon, play a more even hand in Iraq and reduce its intervention in Palestinian affairs.

If a political deal is not reached—and most indications so far are that the regime is unwilling (or unable) to do so—the alternative is increasing violence and a move toward civil war. The drift toward widespread violence has been far slower than in Egypt or Tunisia or Libya, but it has steadily gained momentum. If public opinion within the Sunni majority shifts suddenly, widespread revolt could happen overnight. And if the masses of Aleppo or Damascus join the revolt, the regime can no longer survive. It will be a bloody transition. The regime will not give up without a fight. The country will effectively enter a period of civil war.

As bloodshed spreads, sectarian identities will come to the fore. Only the Alawi community (and not all of it) will fight for the regime, and sooner or later the Sunni majority will win. The Christian, Druze and Kurdish minorities will probably stay out of the conflict…”


Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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