Richmond World Affairs Council

Syria, Part 7: What Now?

Having examined the Assad regime, the anatomy of the opposition, the goals of the opposition, the international reaction, Syria’s relations with its neighbors, and the chronology of the conflict, all that is left to consider is the future of Syriaand its 16-month revolution.

With Assad still claiming popular support and refusing to step down, the possibility of a rapid and peaceful solution seems unlikely. UN former Secretary General Kofi Annan is currently engaged in attempting to make peace in Syria, though his efforts seem futile, likely because the end result is unclear (New York Times). Though peace talks have not yet failed, the previous ceasefire was a failure, and many fear that the current negotiations will come to naught (New York Times).

So where are the Syrian people to go from here? Their leadership is disjointed at best, the government continues their campaign of destruction, and the promises made by Assad have been proven to be empty. In the current atmosphere, the revolution is unstoppable. The years of repression and abuse by the government have added up to a populace willing to do anything to obtain their freedom.

The UN appears to be at a stalemate with Russia and China unwilling to allow resolutions in the Security Council that condemn Syria, let alone those that impose sanctions or utilize military action. The UN is at a stalemate, leaving action to individual countries or smaller groups. The recent “Friends of Syria” meeting held in Paris saw Secretary of State Clinton urging other countries to put pressure on Russiaand China to end their support of the Assad regime (BBC News). These divisions rule out the possibility of a united approach from the international community, which inhibits any response at all.

Given these circumstances, internationally, it is important for nations to collaborate whenever possible in imposing sanctions across multiple regions in order to increase their effectiveness. As pressure increases from all sides, not just the West, Assad’s regime will begin to crumble in aspects other than the internal one alone. With the recent desertion of General Tlas and Ambassador Fares, it is increasingly evident that the regime is under duress from even its own allies and friends (New York Times).

The fate of the revolution now lies in the hands of the Syrian people. The situation now bears semblance to the Libyan Civil War, a constant back and forth between pro and anti-government forces that seemed endless, until the sudden, violent end to Qaddafi. Perhaps the main difference is the lack of NATO involvement- there is not a no-fly zone or drone strikes in order to aid the rebels. Because of this, the Syrian people may have a much longer road to freedom than the Libyans.

The most anyone but the Syrians can do at this point is merely wait for the events to unfold and hope for Annan’s negotiations to succeed, or for the pressure on Assad to escalate to the point where he must step down.  In one of the most oppressed and dictatorial nations in the world, it is ironic to find that the fate of Syrialies in the hands of the people. 

~ Rachel Smith