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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syria where President Bashar al-Assad may not have lost the US led war but he has managed the show so far at a huge human and economic cost and the country is in shambles, fully destabilized, defunct. He knows the NATO/USA would kill as many Muslims as possible pretending to be searching for one Assad. And he let that happen.

President Assad is a Shiite but rules a Sunni dominated Syria has definitely put himself above the nation and people of Syria as he in fact gambled with the lives of Syrians because he thought he has the prerogative to use people to protect himself and prolong stay in power, come what may to the nation and people. He has behaved like a sadist, a little naughty, selfish and stubborn boy and not as a responsible president or a statesman. Assad is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiia Islam, whose members are a minority in both Syria and Turkey. It appears he has no sympathy for Syrians.

As Russia sells him weapons and shields him by using its UN veto, Assad is still alive. But he is finding it increasingly difficult to continue as president for ever as he seeks because of outcomes of several wars going on in the country, targeting the Syrians. One must not forget that the alliance between Russia and Syria has passed all tests for years. The Damascus government, both under father Hafez al-Assad and now under son Bashar, has overcome all efforts to disrupt this alliance.

Three weeks ago, Russia launched air strikes in support of Assad against insurgents fighting him. Russian jets have flown more than 600 combat sorties since the start of the air campaign. Putin recently told a meeting of leaders of ex-Soviet nations in Kazakhstan that Russian air strikes have killed hundreds of militants in Syria since Russia began its involvement in the war in late September. The Russian president recently reaffirmed that the Russian bombing blitz against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other radicals in Syria will continue “for the duration of the Syrian regime’s troops’ offensive operations against the terrorists.”

Assad said in an interview with Iranian television aired on Oct. 4 that it was not up to any foreign official to decide Syria’s future, including any transitional period mooted. “The future political system, and which individuals govern Syria, this is a decision for the Syrian people. That’s why these statements don’t concern us,” he said. He equates people of Syria with himself.

NATO member Turkey has long been one of Assad’s fiercest critics, insisting that no lasting peace can be achieved in Syria without his removal from power. As part of the US led coalition Turkey opposed Assad regime but all its efforts to remove Assad from power also failed as he survived.

After pressing for his departure for many years, now Turkey has announced it is ready to accept a political transition in Syria in which President Bashar al-Assad remains in symbolic power for six months before leaving office. The plan, which has been agreed upon by the US and several European and Gulf states, envisages a “temporary administrative organ” to run Syria’s government in a bid to protect the Arab country’s state institutions. Support for such a move would mean Turkey backtracking on its policy to ensure Assad is removed from power ever since an uprising in Syria that started in the spring of 2011 and turned into a full-fledged civil war.

Turkey joins a group of 9 countries that have agreed Assad will remain as a “symbolic president” for six months and Turkey will participate in efforts to persuade Russia to support the plan. The report claims that Turkey has accepted a “five- or six-point” plan and aims for Assad to relinquish his power over the intelligence and defense capabilities of Syria.

According to the source, the issue of Assad staying on as a symbolic president came about when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sept. 22 for the inauguration of a mosque in Moscow. Turkish officials said that work on a plan for Assad’s departure is underway and Assad can stay for six more months and there will be a guarantee of his departure after that. “We have moved forward on the issue to a certain degree with the United States and our other allies. There is not an exact consensus on when the six month period would begin, but we think it won’t be too long.” When asked about speculation that his remarks on Sept. 24 represent a change in policy, Erdogan dismissed the comments as “intentional efforts” by his critics to frame him and said his Syria stance has remained the same ever since he was prime minister.

A day after his meeting with President Putin, President Erdogan said that a solution including Assad was possible for the duration of the transition process, indicating a policy U-turn in Turkey’s stance regarding the situation in Syria. However, nobody sees a future with Assad in Syria. “It is impossible for Syrians to accept a dictator who caused the deaths of up to 350,000 people,” Erdogan said on Sept. 24 in Istanbul. However, one day later, Erdogan changed his stance again, claiming that his remarks that Assad might be part of a transition process did not mean a change in his policy on Syria, insisting that a long-term solution involving Assad is not possible.

European nations have struggled to find a common position on the role Assad should play in the solution of the Syrian crisis. France is keen to see Assad go as soon as possible, while Germany would prefer to have him involved in the transitional phase before he quits. Britain wants Assad to leave power “at some point” as part of any deal by world powers to end the four-year-old conflict. The USA will put the proposal to Russia, but it was not clear whether Moscow would entertain the idea. Naturally, Russia, which has not responded to the formula developed by nine nations, will have a totally different proposal after it changes the field equations in favor of the Syrian army.

Meanwhile, Turkey is still struggling to adjust its Syria policy, indexed to the slogan “Bashar al-Assad must leave now,” to a new course being shaped by the US-Russian dialogue after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.  It appears nine countries, including Turkey, the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, have agreed on a formula for a six-month transition under Assad’s leadership.

A report suggests that Turkey had already agreed to transition with Assad before Russia’s direct intervention in Syria. The groups Turkey sees leading the transition are retreating every day under Russia’s air attacks and ground operations of the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, National Defense Force militias of the regime, Baath brigades and the Nceba movement made up of Iraqi militias. In other words, by breaking apart the elements lauded as alternatives, Russia is making the cards held by Turkey and its allies invalid.

It is an important development for Turkey that it has abandoned its determination to get rid of Assad and has agreed on an interim period with Assad in place. It is all very well to say the truth but Turkey’s persistence and fixation on getting rid of Assad may have isolated it. According to security analysts Russia’s involvement in Syria has changed the situation completely and that Turkey cannot diverge from an agreement approved by the US and Russia and supported by the EU on the involvement of Assad in the future of Syria.” The Assad regime is stronger, now that Russia is in the picture. The rebels Turkey supports are retreating. It is apparent that Turkey is not a determinative factor.

Clearly, Russia is trying for an interim government with or even without Assad in it but Turkey does not want Assad being a part of new political arraignment in Damascus. President Erdogan says Syria would be peaceful once Assad agrees to stay out of power. Assad has done enough harm to Syria with his adamant attitude.

In recent times many world leaders who had earlier supported Assad  has since revised their stand. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was widely quoted in the international media as saying he wished Assad had stayed in Russia to give the Syrian people some relief. He reiterated that Assad should have no role in Syria’s future whatsoever. There is strong sentiment globally that the process must end with Assad’s absolute departure from his post. The nine countries named had agreed on transition conditions before Obama met President Putin on Sept. 28 in New York. Obama informed Putin of the agreement.

Syrians have a right to live in peace and prosperity. Assad who could be tried for genocides in and destabilization of Syria, however, should not be killed like President Saddam Hussein had been by the US henchmen in Iraq but could be sent to another country for his future settlement.

Enough is really enough and now Syrians should be saved from extinction. Endless war President Bashar al-Assad seems to be pushing for won’t save him.

Assad’s “heroic” defence of himself has harmed and weakened the nation and got thousands of people killed by military and foreign operations. He must quit and leave Syria for the sake of people of Syria.

  • Devaraj Ratnam

    What will be the guarantee(s) of safety and justice for the minorities in the new political setup?