Outside powers must not impose solutions on Syrians

Hassan Hassan writes: As US officials deliberate this week on whether to arm the Syrian rebels, they should remember one point: It will be easier to impose a solution on the regime than on the people.

Leaks from meetings in Geneva last week suggested that representatives from Russia and western countries were focusing on handpicking opposition figures to lead the planned negotiations with the regime. Critical issues such as the future of the security forces, whose brutality sparked the revolt in the first place, were hardly discussed. The world’s great powers appear to think that if some opposition groups agree with the regime on a formula, they can then impose the solution on the rest of Syria. But the time for such thinking is long gone.

Neither those in charge of the regime nor the rebels across Syria are interested in compromise. And “victory” by one side or the other will not end the violence.

Consider the context. The government controls hardly any of the country’s eastern region. The north, from Idlib to the countryside around Aleppo, is in the hands of the rebels. The regime is either weak or embattled everywhere else, except in Damascus and Suwaida in the south and in the coastal region in the west. Even in those areas, especially the coastal region where there is a strong rebel presence, the regime is not secure.

The point is that extending the reach of state agencies back across the entire country will require major, sustainable military ground operations – in effect an invasion.

Any solution or process that can end the violence must be acceptable to the people. Contrary to some media reports, the rebels on the ground have the resilience and determination to continue fighting. [Continue reading…]

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