Many updates in the Syrian crisis have been happening at high speed lately. Countries adopting more flexibility in their international relations (Turkey and Erdogan’s apology to Putin), Washington announcing that it is ready to cooperate with Russia to face terrorism, and Assad’s shocking announcements in his interview with SBS Australia. “The solution for the Syrian crisis is simple, but impossible,” the Syrian President said.
Push for transformation
Erdogan’s apology is still topping all the news in most of the news agencies and news outlets in the world, Its repercussions on the whole political scene are view by political analysts as a “push for transformation” in the Syrian crisis.
The Washington Post mentioned that “Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels”.
An administration official told WP that “the United States transmitted the text of the proposed agreement to the Russian government on Monday after weeks of negotiations and internal Obama administration deliberations”.
The crux of the deal is a U.S. promise to join forces with the Russian air force to share targeting and coordinate an expanded bombing campaign against Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which is primarily fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Under the proposal, which was personally approved by President Obama and heavily supported by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the American and Russian militaries would cooperate at an unprecedented level, something the Russians have sought for a long time.
In exchange, the Russians would agree to pressure the Assad regime to stop bombing certain Syrian rebel groups the United States does not consider terrorists. The United States would not give Russia the exact locations of these groups, under the proposal, but would specify geographic zones that would be safe from the Assad regime’s aerial assaults.
Carter Opposes Plan
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter was opposed to this plan, officials said, but was ultimately compelled to go along with the president’s decision. For many inside and outside the administration who are frustrated with the White House’s decision-making on Syria, the new plan is fatally flawed for several reasons.
“One big flaw is that it’s clear that the Russians have no intent to put heavy pressure on Assad,” said former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. “And in those instances when the Russians have put pressure on, they’ve gotten minimal results from the Syrians.”
“It makes no sense to me,” said Ford. “If they are trying to destroy al-Qaeda in Syria, do they really think bombing them is the way to do it? F-16s do not solve recruitment problems with extremist groups.”
One administration official complained that the plan contains no consequences for the Russians or the Assad regime if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Fifty-one U.S. diplomats signed a dissent letterthis month calling on the White House to use targeted military force against the Assad regime as a means of increasing the pressure on Assad and giving the U.S. real leverage.
Kerry has been threatening for months that if Assad doesn’t respect the current cease-fire, known as the “cessation of hostilities,” that there was a “Plan B” of increasing arms to the Syrian rebels. But the White House has now scuttled that plan in favor of the proposed Russia deal, which could actually leave the rebels in a far worse position.
Military-to-military cooperation with the U.S
“If the U.S. and Russia open up on Jabhat al-Nusra, that changes the dynamics on the ground in Aleppo and Idlib,” he said. “It would definitely benefit the Assad regime and it could potentially benefit the Kurds and ISIS.”
According to Josh Rugin from the “Washington Post”, “For Russia, the deal is not just about Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin sees increased military cooperation as an acknowledgment of Russian importance and a way to gradually unwind Russia’s isolation following the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. The author quoted officials as saying “That’s why Carter was initially opposed to the plan”.
“The Russians have made it very clear that they want military-to-military cooperation with the U.S., not just to fight terrorism, but to improve their world standing,” said Tabler. “It is a way to be welcomed back into the fold.”
Assad: Solution is Simple, yet impossible
Al-Assad said: “They attack us politically and then they send officials to deal with us under the table, especially the security, including your [the Australian] government,” adding “They don’t want to upset the United States. Actually most of the western officials they only repeat what the United States want them to say. This is the reality.”
SBS mentioned that Many Global leaders have condemned President Assad for his tactics against insurgents, and that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called Al-Assad a murderous tyrant, and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has described him as a butcher. In the interview with “SBS”, President Assad responded to the condemnation.
“These statements, I just can say they are disconnected from our reality, because I’m fighting terrorists,” he said.
“Our army is fighting terrorists, our government is against terrorists, the whole institutions are against terrorists. If you call fighting terrorism butchery, that’s another issue.”
There are many Australians who intend to go to Syria to fight. Al-Assad passed a message to them in the interview: “If there are foreigners coming without the permission of the government they are illegal, whether they want to fight terrorists or want to fight any other one,”adding “It’s the same. It’s illegal, we can call it.”
The Syrian president also used the interview to comment on global politics, saying he had no preference for who won the US election and saying the Brexit referendum was a revolt of the people against “second tier politicians”.
Indeed, the main statement said in the interview by Al-Assad was “The Solution of the Syrian crisis is Simple, yet impossible”. The Syrian President added: ” It’s simple because the solution is very clear, how to make dialogue between the Syrians about the political process, but at the same time fighting the terrorism and the terrorists in Syria”.
He also mentioned that “Without fighting terrorists, you cannot have any real solution. It’s impossible because the countries that supported those terrorists, whether Western or regional like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, don’t want to stop sending all kinds of support to those terrorists”, insisting that ” If we start with stopping this logistical support, and as Syrians go to dialogue, talk about the constitution, about the future of Syria, about the future of the political system, the solution is very near, not far from reach”.
With the Pentagon’s latest announcement, and with Assad’s readiness to work with anyone intending to fight terrorism, and with the ongoing enhancement of the Russian-Turkish relations, how would the Syrian crisis continue? What changes will we witness? and will Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar keep sending all kinds of support for terrorists?