International community must push for peace in Syria

opinion January 19, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

With both the government and opposition forces seemingly incapable of total victory, the world must intervene

It is becoming clear that after three years of fighting neither the government nor the opposing forces are strong enough to win the war in Syria, thus, making it imperative for the international community to step up their effort to bring both sides to a negotiated  settlement.
Battles have been fought and won but sustaining a victory has proven to be an impossible task. Needless to say, the Syrian people are the ones who are forced to suffer. More than 100,000 have been killed and many, and more than six millions have been displaced from their homes. More than two million Syrians have left their country, taking refuge in nearby countries. 
To call Syria a humanitarian nightmare would be an understatement. People are forced to live without adequate food and medical supplies.
On the diplomatic front, a framework for peace talks reached in November appeared to be moving 
forward as the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) agreed to dropped their demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down before the process starts.
Getting stockholders to the same table next week in Switzerland will not be enough. But it could be a start.  
There is an ongoing talk about a possible ceasefire for the city of Aleppo, a major battleground and a historic city that has been reduced to rubbles by government’s air strikes and artillery. If successful, the government said it was willing to enter into a possible prisoner exchange with opposition forces.
Adding to the complexity and dynamics of the conflict is the recent clashes between the more moderate opposition forces and militias affiliated with al-Qaeda terrorist network. 
US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the Assad government for creating a condition for the rise of extremism and the increasing number of foreign radicals fighting in Syria. 
But while the Assad government is talking about coming to the table to talk peace, its national reconciliation minister, Ali Haider, is sounding more like a war monger than a person capable of achieving reconciliation. 
“The solution has begun, and will continue through the military triumph of the state ... and through the staying power and resilience of the state and all its institutions, in the face of its enemies who were betting on its collapse,” Haider said.
The road to peace in Syria may have to go through Iran and Russia, two of the country’s main international backers. The US can’t act alone in this. But all will have to move quick before the war in Syria destabilise neighbouring states. The fact that Syria is attracting all sorts of radicals and jihadists from various countries is already a major worry. 
And because of fighting among the opposition forces, Assad is more confident than he has ever been since the civil war erupted. 
But a defeat of Assad could spell disaster for the US, Russia and other Western powers as the jihadists, one of the most powerful factions among the opposition forces, would have no qualms about turning their guns on them. 
The US supported the Afghan mujahedin against the Soviets then abandoned the country after Moscow pulled out. Needless to say, it paved the way for the entrance of the global Islamist warriors bent on carving out a piece of political space in the global arena for themselves. Sadly to say, there is no easy way out of Syria.