Time to act "outside the box" in Syria

Commentary Materials 1 March 2018 16:32 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

All direct players in the Syrian tragedy - the United States, Russia, Turkey and Iran have their own trump cards – some powerful, some not so powerful.

Syria's president, Assad alone has no such card. It is similar to being a participant in the "Weakest Link” show. It is absolutely clear that the weakest link is Assad, despite his cunning and deviousness.

The very identity of the, as yet, Syrian president, his appearance and even his name cause rejection among many Syrians, not only those who are now fighting against him. The death and loss of about half a million Syrians cannot remain a mere fact when the war is over.

Russia, thanks to which Assad is still in power, is still busy ironing East Ghouta in a fit of rage, trying to knock the rebels out and to force the Syrian opposition to peace. However, President Putin must have realized that it is impossible to wipe them all out. As soon as the acute phase is over and the pressure weakens, they will reappear. The experience of Afghanistan should suggest that the issue cannot be solved by mere bombing.

There is no necessity to bring the Syrian matter under international negotiations at such a great cost. Instead of irritating the whole world by bloody attacks, other tools could be used.

President Putin can make a strong and timely move - make Asad go away, and then a lot can change at once, as Assad, as many signs attest, became the icon of evil.

Who will temporarily rule the country – a collective body or a relatively neutral figure – is not so important, but they will still be loyal to Moscow.

This should be done immediately, and then the response will not take long. It will benefit Russia. In this case, the larger part of the opposition, except for trigger-happy maniacs, will agree to negotiate. Thus, a chance to achieve real peace. Also, more resources will become available to destroy the remnants of the IS (Islamic State terrorist organization).

Other actors will also have to adjust their position in the new circumstances. President Erdogan will most likely be satisfied with this decision, and this step of Moscow will bring it even closer to Ankara.

Washington will also express satisfaction, at least publicly. Factually, the new circumstances will help reinforce the ground for reducing tensions between Washington and Moscow and continuing the dialogue.

The only one, who can be upset with Assad’s going away, is Iran. In Iran, there are fears in the context of bilateral relations between Russia and the United States that President Trump will try to make Tehran a bargaining chip in negotiations with Moscow.

If Moscow secures Tehran’s interests, the latter will not strongly object. For instance, Moscow can assist Tehran get lucrative contracts on the post-war reconstruction and ensure Iranian economic presence in Syria.