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Opinion

Syria's solutions: Between a rock and a hard place

The current solutions on the table to the Syria crisis will yield terrible results, writes author.

Last Modified: 19 Sep 2013 10:06
Samar Yazbek

Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist.
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"While the international community continues to proclaim that the Syrian people should not be killed by Assad's chemical attacks, they remain silent over daily massacres," writes author [AFP]

No one is prepared to believe that the whole world has suddenly regained its moral consciousness after the August 21 chemical gas massacre that took place in al-Ghouta.

It is an exaggeration to say that conflicting international reactions to a potential US military strike will only add to the complex factors of the situations.

More importantly, despite the media frenzy, as massacres continue to be committed in Syria, many of the world's power players are still protecting the Assad regime, in order to promote their strategic interests.

Should we support a US military intervention?

Before pondering and debating this issue, not only under moral pretexts, but also for staving off the looming danger posed by allowing the Assad regime in power, impacting not only the Syrian people but the neighbouring countries as well.

Syrian rebels advance towards western Aleppo

It is also important to recognise the long dark tunnel through which Syria is passing - on this route, both Assad and the Jihadist groups are likely to flourish side-by-side for the long-term - at the detriment of the Syrian people.

The US and the world community will not intervene militarily purely on an ethical basis - their primary reason is not protecting the Syrian people. The US is obviously hesitant because of its basic concern for defending its allies and interests in the region. This is well-known to us, but keeping a blind eye on viable means for removing the Assad regime, which is intent on devastating Syria, remains to be contemplated.

This would force Syrians to choose one among only two options: either get killed by Assad's rockets, or join one a sectarian militant organisation.

At this point, we can think of the only remaining option, which is, allowing Bashar al-Assad to eliminate what remains of the Syrian people.

When discussing a possible US military intervention, Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind. But since the Syrian crisis continues to be a rapidly developing situation, the complex realities on the ground cannot be ignored. Among these realities is the funding of extremist groups and the support Assad gets from Iran and Russia.

Many facts remain elusive, but an important issue has to be highlighted about how weak the civil resistance network is compared to the powerful influence of armed Jihadist groups, which control large swathes of land.

The large number of these Jihadist groups and their inter-factional rivalries should be noted, but the horrible future facing Syria in case Assad survives the conflict is more clearly visible.

Consider the Ahrar al-Sham movement for instance, and its strong military wing. Rooted a in a large number of towns and villages, the movement runs social institutions and provides trading services.  

The media remains focused on the jihadist factions, particularly after Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda linked “Iraq and al-Sham Islamic state” gained prominence. News of popular and civil resistance groups and their social functions, are completely missing from Western media outlets, or appeared to be largely obscured. This is not precisely original as it conceals one of the aspects of this genuine and courageous Syrian uprising. 

In north Syria, civil resistance continues to function, but civil resistance is suffering from meager funding and was virtually ignored. Secular rebels are regularly joining the ranks of the jihadists because they have the money, equipment, and organisation – and the moderate Islamic groups are jumping ship.

All efforts made by residents of the liberated lands and pro-uprising activists were suspended..

UN report: Sarin used in Syria attack

On the Syrian-Turkish borders, tens of civil rights organisations are only exhibiting activities such as news media, documentation and intelligence work. Tens of support projects and civil and local groups have called the UN civil organisations, the European parliament and the EU, for support. But these groups were denied support and were virtually ignored.

This same attitude applies to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions, after large arms shipments and funding began pouring into Jihadist extremist cells. As arms and resources for moderate groups were blocked, Turkish borders remained open for Jihadist groups.

There is a sound plan for suppressing civil activity by systematically militarising Syrian social life. This is done by allowing Jihadist factions, with strong social links, to penetrate into the Syrian social fabric.

Under these circumstances, giving al-Assad more time and opportunity would be much worse than what the West is trying to portray.

If no justice was exacted, more extremism, dogmatism, and violence are expected to prevail. More violent religious groups would pop up, national and sectarian divisions will veer towards violent, and civil society would be virtually annihilated.

This would create long-term social transformations feared by many Syrians. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda-linked religious groups that pose serious danger not only to Syria, but also to the US allies in the region, would prosper.

What is the solution?

Should we keep watching the Syrian carnage while chanting old Baathist and nationalist paradigms that proved to be a failure throughout long decades?

While the international community continues to proclaim that the Syrian people should not be killed by Assad's chemical attacks, they remain silent over daily massacres.

Will the military strike option resolve the Syrian crisis?

Whoever believes that the crisis will come to an end due to a military strike against the Syrian regime is wrong. Such a strike can only mark the end of a phase and the beginning of an upcoming revolutionary phase, whether it is positive or negative - remains to be seen.

But whatever the outcome resulting from a decisive and devastating military strike on the Syrian regime, we cannot respect the country's sovereignty to appease a dictator. The outcome could never be more brutal than current regime's systematic genocide against its own people.

In Syria, there is only one solution to put an end to all of these combined hazards - anything will be less costly than allowing the Assad regime to survive. Any action that may lead to finally toppling the Assad regime would absolutely do more good to the country.

Meanwhile, any solution to the problem of the Jihadists, could only happen when Assad falls and when civil society revives. These two steps are the basic groundwork for kicking off action to remove the legacy of a half a century of dictatorship. Added to this are three years of violence fuelled by Assad's crimes that, hypothetically, have bred a ten-headed monster.

The monsters' heads represent not only religious extremism, but also sectarian divisions.

Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist. 

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The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

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