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This will be the new Syria if the Syrians remain silent

September 6, 2017 at 5:59 pm

People shout slogans during a commemoration event for Mustafa Badreddine, a soldier of Hezbollah killed in Syria, as Secretary-General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah live broadcasts in Dahieh district of Beirut, Lebanon on 11 May, 2017 [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

Everything we are hearing and reading about the political solution in Syria is nothing but a waste of time and jiggery-pokery. Do not believe that the UN or any other major power is interested in reaching solutions that please the people or achieve justice in crisis-stricken countries.

On top of this, the Russian mediator who is working on the political solution is the biggest supporter of the Syrian regime. Its situation is somewhat similar to that of the American mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If you expect the Americans to promote the Palestinians’ rights, then you can expect the Russians to support the Syrian opposition. How can you expect Russia, which gloats about firing over 200,000 missiles at the Syrians, to be an honest mediator between the regime and the opposition? It is impossible. Even if the major powers want stability in Syria, at least to serve Israel’s interests, the Syrians will get nothing more than a Syrian “Taif agreement” if they accept the political solution, similar to the Lebanese Taif agreement which ended the Lebanese civil war. This of course is the best case scenario, otherwise, they would get nothing because power is what determines the course of events on the ground.

Who possesses the power on the ground? Of course the regime and its allies, the Russians and the Iranians. Therefore, they will be imposing the alleged political solution on all of the Syrians if the Syrians remain silent and surrender. More dangerous than this is the fact that if the Syrian “Taif agreement” is imposed, which will distribute authorities across the components of the Syrian people, it will be much worse than the Lebanese one. When the Lebanese civil war ended after 16 years of fighting and destruction, the Lebanese factions and groups were in a similar situation; they were all depleted and exhausted with no strong international support for any of them. Therefore, it was possible to resolve the Lebanese issue by easily distributing the authorities amongst the Christians, Sunnis, Shias and Druze. However, in Syria’s case, the regime is the strongest at the moment, not because of its own strength but because of the great Russian and Iranian support it receives in exchange for handing over the country’s wealth and capabilities to the Russians and Iranians. We have all heard the Russian and Iranian statements saying “if it weren’t for us, the regime would’ve been toppled within a week.”

Read: 32 people killed under torture in Syria in August

The Russian and Iranian support for the regime makes it the stronger party in any negotiations regarding the division of authority with the opposition, which has no true support. They have become like orphans. Therefore, the Syrian regime’s situation is similar to the situation of Hezbollah in Lebanon nearly three decades after the Taif agreement, i.e. after the party has become the one with the final say on all political, military and security issues in Lebanon, given the fact that it is the strongest faction in the country.

Given the foreign support it has, the Syrian regime is stronger than the rest of the factions, so imagine if the Russians and Iranians imposed a Syrian version of the Taif agreement on the Syrians. In other words, the situation in Syria will go back to square one, and the opposition forces, along with the rest of the Syrian people, who sacrificed everything, will be the biggest losers in any agreement involving the regime maintaining military and security power in the country.

Image of Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on 20 December 2016 in Beirut, Lebanon [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

Image of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on 20 December 2016 in Beirut, Lebanon [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

We all know that there is no point in dividing any power in Arab countries if the army and intelligence remains in the hands of a specific party. Look where Lebanon is after the Taif agreement, which divided power amongst the Lebanese parties. Are the executive, legislative, judicial and presidential authorities independent and capable of carrying out their tasks independently and freely or are they subject to the militarily dominating force in Lebanon, i.e. Hezbollah? Do not forget that Saad Hariri, the leader of the Sunnis in Lebanon, who, in accordance with the Taif agreement were given the executive power, i.e. presidency of the government, lived many years outside of Lebanon because he couldn’t ensure his safety in Lebanon.

Let’s speak frankly about the Lebanese presidential administration; does the current Lebanese president really represent the Christians, as stipulated by the Taif agreement, or would he have not dreamed of becoming president if it weren’t for his alliance with Hezbollah, the strongest military and security force in Lebanon? What is the point of any agreement dividing powers between the components of any nation after a civil war if one party remains in control of the military and security forces and blackmails others with them?

Read more: Russia provides Hezbollah with diplomatic cover at the UN

If the Syrian regime’s situation remains the same as it is now after any negotiations to divide the authority amongst the Syrians, it will be in a similar situation as Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has the final word in the country. The executive, legislative, and judicial authorities will be putty in its hands, even if they are distributed amongst the rest of the Syrian factions and forces in accordance with any agreement.

What is the point of the Syrian government, the parliament and the judicial authority in Syria if it has to face the army and intelligence? It would have no use; they will merely be pawns in the hands of the security and military force. Therefore, any Syrian agreement that does not stipulate the transformation of the military and intelligence into national institutions for all of the Syrians will take us back to something worse than square one, because if these institutions remain in the hands of their current owners, they will be even more fierce after the agreement. This is because it will have been granted legitimacy and blessings internally and internationally, and will therefore act with more ruthlessness and arrogance towards everyone.

Of course no one is against the idea of Syria having a great army and even greater security agencies, but on the condition that they are not put in the hands of a specific group or faction that will use them to subjugate the Syrians, exploit them and protect the interests of the corrupt criminals in the country. We welcome security agencies and an exceptional Syrian army for all of the Syrians that will protect the interests of the people and the country, not the interests of the ruling tyrants, their spies and their military and security mercenaries.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 6 September 2017

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.