No prospect of reaching political solution to conflict in Syria, expert says

No prospect of reaching political solution to conflict in Syria, expert says

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 15

By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

There is no prospect of reaching a political solution to the conflict in Syria, Senior Associate of the Carnegie Middle East Center Yezid Sayigh said in an interview with Trend.

Syria has been suffering an armed conflict on its soil since March 2011, which, according to the UN, has so far killed over 250,000 people and displaced nearly half of the population.

Militants from various armed groups are confronting Syrian government troops. The militants of the extremist groups known as "Islamic State" and Jabhat al-Nusra are the most active ones.

Proposals of the United Nations special envoy for the Syria crisis Staffan de Mistura are now also blocked, he said.

The UN's special envoy for Syria submitted a new proposal to the Security Council in late July for the next steps to ending the war.

Staffan de Mistura said he would invite Syrian parties to "parallel, or simultaneous, thematic discussions through intra-Syrian working groups addressing the key aspects of the Geneva Communique", a document issued in 2012 that calls for an immediate end to fighting and the formation of a transitional government.

He proposed the formation of four subject-specific working groups, addressing "safety and protection for all", "political and constitutional issues", "military and security issues" and "public institutions, reconstruction and development".

Urging all stakeholders to work towards a Syrian-led transition, the Council said that the process should include "the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions".

The representative of Venezuela, Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño, said he went along with the consensus in the interest of peace, but objected to the language in paragraphs 8 and 10 describing a transitional governing body, which he said violated the sovereignty of Syria and ignored the part that the Government must play in solving the conflict and determining the course of its future, and thus went against the Charter of the United Nations. Syria, he stressed, now required the support of the international community to fight terrorism. "If the [Bashar] [al-]Assad Government was defeated, the black flag of ISIS would fly over Damascus," he said.

"At most we can hope that the Russian intervention will prompt the key members of the US-led coalition to seek an armed truce between the regime and opposition (i.e. excluding ISIS), modeled on the ceasefire that was reached for the town of Zabadani and Idlib province on Sept. 22," Sayigh said.

Regarding the situation in Syria, the current deployment is not sufficient to do more than help the Assad regime regain a military equilibrium on the ground and prevent further significant losses, he said. So the Russian operation will have to last for many months in order simply to maintain the equilibrium, Sayigh said.

"Russia and the US-led coalition should be able to achieve tactical coordination quite easily, by which I mean establishing communication protocols to avoid accidental collisions or friendly fire," he said. "But I don't see a possibility to achieve broader cooperation, for instance to fight the Islamic State, so long as Russia insists on including the Assad regime within such a joint effort and so long as the US-led coalition rejects this."

Sayigh also considers Russian military cooperation with Iran in the Syrian issue unlikely.

"I don't see a situation in which Russia leads military operations with Iranian units under its direct command," he said. "More likely in this case is for Russia and Iran to assume separate missions in different areas."

Iran is unlikely to send regular army or revolutionary guard units for combat in Syria, according to the expert.

On September 30, Russia began air strikes on IS in Syria following Syrian President Bashar Assad's request for military assistance. Russian warships launched a total of 26 Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles at "Islamic State" (IS) facilities Oct.7.

Also, the Western coalition led by the United States has been fighting the militants of the "Islamic State" for more than a year.

Edited by CN


Follow the author on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova

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