Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 30
By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:
For the past seven years, Assad preferred not to leave, although he could do it several times. During these years, about half a million of his compatriots were killed or went missing and more than five million became refugees.
Who is the least interested in political settlement of the Syrian crisis today?
The resolution of the conflict in Syria should include a political process under the auspices of the United Nations, according to the communiqué of the summit (Germany, France, Turkey, Russia) on the Syrian settlement, held in Istanbul on Saturday, October 27.
The parties called for the convening of the Syrian Constitutional Committee by the end of the year, which will work on constitutional reform. The completion of this process should be resulted in “free elections, which should be accessible to all Syrians, including the Diaspora,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during the summit.
What does political resolution, which the four countries agreed to accelerate, hold for Assad’s regime?
President Assad knows for certain that if fair and transparent elections under strict control of the UN and the international community are held in the country, he has little chance of remaining in power. Or rather, the chance would hypothetically remain, in case of physical extermination of the entire opposition, primarily armed.
Therefore, it would be consistent with Assad’s objective to launch military operation in an attempt to annihilate the opposition forces concentrated in Idlib province - the last haven of the most dangerous internal enemies that threaten his power.
But he was prevented to do so by Turkey's proposal, supported by Russia, to suspend the fighting in Idlib, to establish a de-escalation zone there, to separate terrorist groups from the moderate opposition and to create conditions for further political dialogue.
Assad is, without a doubt, acquainted with what was discussed and said at the summit in Istanbul. And if he did not like the words of President Macron that the Syrian regime does not represent the entire people of Syria, then he certainly liked President Putin's words that in the case of armed provocations from the Idlib zone, Russia reserves the right to react harshly.
However, he probably should've heard Putin's other words too, who, as well as his colleagues, believes that first of all it is necessary to launch the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, which will consider the fundamental issues of the future State structure of Syria, and that such a Committee, undoubtedly, should be recognized as legitimate by all Syrian sides.
President Erdogan, in his turn, stressed that the more countries will join this process, the faster it is possible to achieve a solution to the crisis. Indeed, in this case, the degree of mutual responsibility for the decisions taken will increase – otherwise, reputation losses can be too great.
President Macron added that “within the framework of the constitutional process, it is necessary to create conditions for all Syrians to participate in it. And when we implement this process, we have one requirement. The people should be free to express their opinion. Will Assad remain in power or not – it's not for us to decide.”
Assad’s regime is under the threat again. In 2015, Russia helped him maintain an overall grip on power by military means. But this time, the threat to Bashar al-Assad is hidden in the ceasefire regime, stabilization of the situation and the transition to a political settlement based on UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the decisions of the Congress of the Syrian national dialogue, as a result of which all Syrians, including more than 5 million refugees, will be able to express their will within the future elections.
Today, Assad, more than anyone else, is believed to be interested in attacks by militants from the province of Idlib, as was the case a few days ago, when Aleppo was shelled.
French President warned about this, saying that the world powers will closely monitor the events in Syria.
“We know that today the Syrian regime believes that this military intervention [in Idlib] can lead to a solution. Undoubtedly, a military attack or military operation by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be unacceptable regarding the settlement of the Idlib issue.”
Assad, however, has likely nothing to do but to discredit the established truce and push Russia back to turn on the engines of its combat aircraft.