US & Hezbollah views on Syria’s Assad, necessity of negotiated settlement subtly/steadily shifting; but Israeli strike & response major challenge
Yesterday I pointed to an Al-Monitor reading of Nasrallah’s critical Mayadeen interview last week that I believe – together with our recent meetings here in Beirut with Party officials – signals an important relaxation in the positioning of Hizbullah (and Iran) vis-a-vis Bashar… It is of course NOT what the longstanding “assad must go/he will go in a few weeks” crowd would like and have said for years (and of course not what I would like in a world devoid of power politics and solely based on justice…). The two main parts are below
Then today we have Anne’s piece in the New York Times that suggests, finally, that the Obama administration is shifting as well on its position on the Syria crisis and its possible resolution/mitigation.
Two critical problems that stand to derail this multi-part trend in the region are : 1) the Israeli decision to attack Hizbullah-led forces operating on the ground in southern Syria and therefore raise the tension and likely invite a response that could provide for an escalation (whether any of the actors want it or not)… and which would easily overwhelm and complicate and deepen the syrian conflict and regional mitigation efforts, and 2) Per usual, the great communicator Obama and his team are doing an exceedingly poor job of publicly communicating WHY, HOW, ON WHAT BASIS this shift is happening? Why does it make sense for US interests, for moral reasons etc. Team Obama, as always, will get more and more of their political capital sucked away by their maddening refusal or failure to actually COMMUNICATE to various publics and elites WHY their approaches make sense – something that must go beyond “dont do stupid stuff” or arming syrian rebels was a “fantasy” (both correct pronouncements of course).
The NYT’s piece is here:
“American support for a pair of diplomatic initiatives in Syria underscores the shifting views of how to end the civil war there and the West’s quiet retreat from its demand that the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, step down immediately.
The Obama administration maintains that a lasting political solution requires Mr. Assad’s exit. But facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria….”
“The depth of the US stance is that the Americans do not care if Assad stays or steps down, but they didn’t arrive here without paying a price. Even the opposition, if it was left without regional influence, wouldn’t mind sharing power with President Assad. Developments in Europe and abroad will prove to the international community that there is no solution without Assad.”
The political solution in Syria was a main subject in the interview with Nasrallah. He emphasized that any solution must include Assad, and that the regime’s army must hold control of most of the Syrian territories and that IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) take control of the rest of the country. In this regard, he left the door open by saying, “Even if the political solution means that Assad should go after the end of his term, this should be in coordination with him.”
Nasrallah suggested that there is a draft for a solution circulating among some Arab countries, which intends Assad to continue his term and a national unity government to be formed with both the “government and the moderate opposition. Nobody is suggesting that IS or Jabhat al-Nusra be part of the government, neither do I think their structure, ideology or understanding allows them to,” Nasrallah said. He added, “A committee needs to be formed to review the constitution and reforms, and a dialogue established. Some might suggest that early parliamentary elections be held — this is what’s being suggested — or that the president gives part of his powers to the Cabinet, not all his powers.”