Last week, the G8 Summit was convened in Northern Ireland as the world waited with bated breath for world leaders to provide a concrete solution to end the stalemate in the Syrian crisis. However, the summit only ended up suggesting complicated ways to resolve the crisis.
Evidently, several parties have their vested interests in Syria, therefore, finding a common ground to put an end to the bloodshed in the country will be difficult and exhaustive.
The Middle East region has always been the center of attraction for all world powers. Russia is a major oil-producing country and therefore its interests in the geopolitical situations in the Middle East are understandable. And during the last 15 years, Russia has lost key allies in the region, for instance, Iraq, Libya, not to mention Kosovo. So Syria is the last Russia ally in the region, which hosts the Russian naval base in Tartus.
On the other hand, the West, led by the United States, including Britain and France, have had a historical presence in the Middle East owing to its geopolitical importance. Russian’s influence is limited in this region because most of the countries, with the exception of Iran, are Sunni and traditional allies of the West, particularly the US. Further, the dominance of Arab countries over the region is threatened by Shiite-Iran, which is an ally of Russia.
Therefore, there are common grounds among the West and Arab countries with their interests converging. Naturally, those common interests limit Moscow’s political leverage in the region, as those countries together wield considerable wealth and power that supposedly can withstand any form of pressure.
Conversely, the Bashar Assad’s regime has been a close ally of Russia for decades. Consequently, losing Assad easily does not go down well with Russia as its status as a superpower and its national pride will take a severe beating and damage its credibility. Similarly, the US is also trying to secure its interests and protect its friends in the region by thwarting any possibility of use of the chemical weapons against Israel by either Assad’s regime or any militant group if the current Syrian regime collapses. Such an attack is more likely to engulf the entire region in a wider conflict.
Moreover, the US is also concerned about the possibility of Islamist groups, specifically Al-Nusra Front, replacing the Assad regime because the militant front has proved to be the most effective and lethal fighting force against Bashar Assad. Al-Nusra Front is Al-Qaeda affiliated militant group and dominates other Islamist groups in Syria, which has allies and supporters almost in all Arab countries.
So, the US does not desire — at least for the time being — to replace Bashar with perceived anti-Western extremist groups as it fears that their violent activities might spill over into neighboring countries, including Israel. Though this legitimate concern could be viewed as being an obstruction to a quick solution, realizing all of its aspects could help preventing it from happening.
Most Syrians have expressed that they do not prefer to replace one oppressive regime with another radical theocratic government that would confine their personal freedoms. Further, various political, military and civil structures have been established to ward off the possibility of a single political unit to have an absolute control of the Syrian affairs. These structures include the National Coalition, the National Council, the new leadership of the Syrian Free Army and the interim government.
More importantly, there is no single country bordering Syria that is interested in facilitating the rise of an extremist group to head a new Syrian government, and ultimately distributing the region’s stability and security for a long time to come. Hence, these groups could be denied access to financial resources, training, and logistics, and their influence as result would fizzle out.
Clearly, the projected situation of both Russia and the West in the Middle East stood in the way of breaking both the political and military stalemates and prolonged the time for reaching a quick solution. At the same time, as being superpowers, both Russia and the US do not seek confrontation, and both the countries are working to avoid this event.
Now, no political solution has been envisioned by the participants of the G8 Summit, specifically the US and Russia. But the attendants have agreed on establishing a transitional government in Syria and called for Geneva II conference to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, Russia continues to supply arms to the Assad regime and the US prepares to do the same in support of the Syrian opposition fighters. In other words, the two superpowers are offering a military solution that establishes a new reality on the ground to take place first, and then a political one.
Eventually, a type of understanding among all parties involved must evolve, where Russia finds itself gracefully letting Assad go. The international community would not let this conflict drag on forever.
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