Inside Syria

Syria and the promise of 2014

As the Syrian conflict has been raging for almost three years, what does the future hold for the war-torn nation?

The Syrian civil war has been raging for almost three years and 2013 has been a year of negotiations, intense diplomacy and even a threat of military action.

Both opposition and government forces have made significant gains in their battle for control of Syria. However, it became clear that neither the opposition nor the government is strong enough to win the war.

I believe that President Assad is going to be the man of 2104, he has to take tough decisions and has to keep the country together and as everybody knows he is the one who will keep Syria and the whole region stable and safe.

by Haytham Sbahi, a pro-Syrian government political activist

The Syrian people are the ones who continue to suffer the brunt of this conflict. Families have been torn apart, entire communities ruined and schools and hospitals destroyed.

Since the start of the unrest in March 2011, more than 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed.

The conflict has created the world’s worst refugee crisis in 20 years. More than two million Syrians have fled the country, seeking refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. The United Nations believes that number could top three million in the coming year.

The number of people displaced from their homes has risen to 6.5 million. Many are living without adequate food or access to electricity and medical supplies.

There has been diplomatic movement though. In November, the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) agreed to a framework for peace talks in Geneva.

The SNC outlined several preconditions to its attendance but it seems to have dropped the most contentious one – that president Bashar al-Assad should step down before talks begin. Some of the other conditions must be met either before or after talks.

The SNC’s wish list includes the release of prisoners, especially women and children; an easing of blockades on rebel-held areas through humanitarian corridors; and a promise that al-Assad will not have any role in the transitional period or the country’s long-term future.

Inside Syria looks at where things stand right now and what is on the horizon of 2014.

Presenter Sami Zeidan discusses with guests: Anas al-Abdah, a member of the Syrian National Coalition; Joshua Landis, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies and a professor at the University of Oklahoma; Haytham Sbahi, a Syrian political activist who is supportive of the Syrian government; and Jawad al-Shami, from the political office of the Islamic Front in Syria.

“This year 2013 has seen a big transformation in the way the world looks at the Syrian problem. The stalemate between Assad’s forces and the new emerging Islamic front, which has been one of the big things that has come out of this year … at the beginning of the year there were hundreds of militias, today the Islamic Front has brought together some of the biggest militias and it can speak, I suppose, for the rebels better than anybody else.”

Joshua Landis, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies