Four future solutions for Syria

Posted in Syria | 25-Sep-13 | Author: Jukka Aminoff,

The Syrian civil war has continued for almost three years. The number of casualties are over 110 000, and the number of refugees are over two million people. The crisis in Syria is a result of the Arab Spring's uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Citizens in the Middle East and North-Africa have been under the rule of authoritarian regimes where free elections, civil rights, rule of law, and freedom of speech have been under serious pressures.

The Arab Spring was launched because people were frustrated and angry about the oppression, which they faced. Some politicians in the Middle East and in North Africa have said that these uprisings are a some sort of conspiracy generated by the West. The West supports democratic movements when they appear but the West has not been involved in generating these movements. Democratic movements have been launched because there have been serious offenses concerning civil rights and because there is a real demand for change.

The internet has been playing a major role when these movements had been created and social media networks enabled discussions between people who shared the same beliefs and visions. Democratic movements could easily gain access to western medias, and to see how western democracies really work. Therefore, they thought, why can not we have the same civil liberties here in the Middle-East and in North-Africa. As a result, a democratic movement decided to launch an uprising in Syria, which has been the longest during the Arab Spring. Hence, Syrian people are not Arabs but it is a part of the same event.

All countries have known all of the time that Syria possesses chemical weapons. Therefore, there have been mixed feelings, how to end the civil war because extremist movements are the ones who are united groups when moderates are not. Egypt is an example, moderates were really dispersed when extremist were not. As a result, Egypt is in a some sort of chaos. This is the reason why western countries have been really cautious when supporting Syria's opposition.

The major problem with Syria's opposition is that it does not have a clear and strong leader, which could replace Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Free Syrian Army's leader Riad Mousa al-Asaad might not be so strong. If al-Assad would be overthrown, there is a danger that al-Qaida members could easily make a coup within the opposition movement, and to get access to chemical weapons.

The use of chemical weapons was a truly sad event, which angered the United States to punish Syria's government forces by a surgical strike. In the middle of propaganda wars it is very difficult to know that who actually launched those chemical weapons against opposition territories, which killed over 1 400 people. Germany's foreign intelligence has said that al-Assad did not give the permission. It was al-Assad's brother Maher al-Assad, commander of an elite force in Syria, who launched these chemical weapons.

Therefore, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have asked for the permission to strike against al Assad's forces because they have the evidence. Still, there is a dilemma. What would happen to chemical weapons if opposition forces win?

Finland's foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja submitted a proposal, which was drawn together by Scandinavian and Baltic ministers to Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov because Russia is a strong supporter of al-Assad's regime. The proposal demanded to bring chemical weapons under international supervision to avoid US strikes against Syria's government. Gladly, Syria's government accepted the proposal, and now they have promised to sign the UN's treaty to ban chemical weapons.

Still, the United Nations should generate is decisions, and to launch a mission in Syria. This will take some time because the decisions process in the UN is slow. Clearly, Syria's opposition forces are not glad because this solution actually helped Syria's government to keep its strongholds. There are still major questions open.

How will this war end?

If government forces will win the civil war and al-Assad will continue as Syria's president. Opposition forces will be smashed, and executions will be made by the government forces. Opposition 'fighters' will be prisoned and persecuted. This will be an end for open democracy in Syria.

On the other hand, if opposition forces will win. Then the country will be in disorder when opposition and current regime forces fight for power. Syria's pro-government groups might also face difficult times - executions, imprisonments and persecutions. There would be no guarantees that Syria would continue as a secular country. Surrounding countries would be very concerned of the internal progress in Syria, and they might even interfere. As a result Syria's future would be very uncertain.

Third solution would suggest that Syria would be divided into two countries. It would be quite clear that pro al-Assad regime would create a Sunni Muslim country, when opposition groups would create a Shia Muslim country. The major problem with this solution would be - what surrounding countries, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and Iran would say to that? Still, this would end the civil war quite quickly, and both countries would avoid an uncertain internal future.

Fourth solution would be to have a large crisis management operation under the United Nations. The UN would supervise that the civil war would have an end, and Syria can continue towards real democracy and to protect the civil population from violence and persecution. The international court requires to accuse leaders from both sides, from the current government and opposition forces. This would send a clear a message for both parties - that both of you were wrong.