Apparently, the UNSC Syria Resolution in New York has given a ‘roadmap’ to end the war in Syria. Now time is of the essence to uphold the commitments. It is the first resolution in which both America and Russia have agreed on Syria since the start of the war four and a half years ago. The hope in the resolution should be preserved. There is a clear plan for a unity government. Delegates are committed to a system that represents all Syrians as part of ‘democratic and inclusive’ Syria. A time span of 18 months has been agreed upon to allow the country to hold general elections in which six months have been given to the warring factions to end the war. Opposition groups have agreed to reject foreign fighters.
Assad’s fate should not be decided from outside. Moscow has sent a positive message to the world by matching Washington’s efforts to help end the Syrian war. Moscow favors a ‘swift transition’ to protect its interests in Syria and the Middle East. It appears that Assad is no more ‘untouchable’. Moscow has moved on from its position of ‘no compromise on Assad’ to the next level where Russia’s geo-strategic interests are being held supreme and fate of an individual will not be allowed to jeopardise the Resolution.
However, Putin’s pragmatic approach on the future of Assad will largely depend on the West’s adherence to the principle of ‘solution not to be imposed from outside’. Assad is president of a sovereign state. This has been a long-standing position of China. Non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states is a fundamental policy of Beijing. It explains unity on the Syrian Resolution. Syrians should be allowed to deal with their fate through a political process including elections. Challenges to the deal can be overcome. The resolution has provided a framework for political settlement. Those who lay down arms and join political process should be welcomed and those who fail to do so will be excluded from the process. All stakeholders have a joint responsibility to end ‘extra-national agendas’ in Syria. All foreign fighters should be expelled from the country and all countries supporting proxy war in Syria should withdraw their support for such elements to give peace a chance.
Gulf States are part of the solution. International community should now help the world focus on the positive role that Syria’s neighboring countries can play politically, economically and in returning refugees. The UN should provide monetary assistance to all countries hosting Syrian refugees. Europe should support them so that refugees can return to their homes. The West should take notice of the brutalities against Syrian refugees braving harsh winters in Europe, fences and brutepolice force.
Iran can play an important role. The chaos in Iraq is a failure of past policies of pitching one sect against another. Emphasison welcoming all opposing parties in Syria’s dialogue process is a step in right direction. Iran should support the Syria Roadmap under the UN Resolution to restore peace in the country. Moscow has changed its position now it is time for Tehran to support the process.
World should protect Syrian women and children. The West, the UN and the EU should admonish Tripoli for failing to protect Syrian refugee women fleeing war back home and ending up being raped in Libya. Europe should temporarily accept refugees. Immigration policies, such as Britain’s, which traps people in a no man’s land from which there is no escape, need to be scrapped and aligned with EU policy and international human rights and conventions to protect the most vulnerable.
In conclusion, the UNSC Syria Resolution has laid the framework for a possible solution to end the war in Syria. Time is very important in implementing this deal. All parties should therefore uphold this deal to protect interests of Syria and end the suffering of Syrian refugees.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.