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Syria in a cul de sac

Stanly Johny | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on March 16, 2015

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Bashar al-Assad   -  AP

Everyone’s responsible, and not Assad alone

With the civil war in Syria entering its fifth year this month, a UNDP-backed report by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research says the war has plunged 80 per cent of the country’s people into poverty, reduced life expectancy by 20 years, and led to economic losses estimated at over $200 billion. Around 2.2 lakh people have been killed. UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon says “almost three million Syrians lost their jobs , which meant that more than 12 million people lost their primary source of income”. By any standards, the country is a humanitarian catastrophe.

Who’s responsible for this disaster? The West says President Bashar-al-Assad is responsible. Assad claims he’s fighting terrorism. Saudi Arabia and Turkey call Assad an Iranian puppet, while Tehran blames Sunni regimes for supporting the militias. If one looks at the whole picture, it’s clear that all these actors are responsible for the crisis. Assad’s brutal suppression of peaceful protests four years ago pushed the protesters into an armed struggle. Immediately, the Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia started supporting the rebels because they wanted Assad, an ally of Iran and Russia, out of the West Asian power equation; they were joined by the West.

Iran and Russia aggressively backed the Assad regime. In no time, Syria became a geopolitical battlefield. The destruction of the state and the absence of a credible unified opposition opened enormous opportunities for Islamist groups. The best case scenario for today’s Syria was the worst four years ago. Assad still controls the most populated areas of the country; without him a long-standing solution to the conflict seems impossible. On the other hand, the Islamic State is the main opposition force, which not many countries would like to see winning. So the question is whether Assad’s detractors are ready to accommodate him and prepare their proxies for a political solution to the crisis. It’s perhaps the only way ahead.

Stanly Johny Assistant Editor

Published on March 16, 2015
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