Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Political Solution IS Better than Hell

I sympathize with a traumatized and cynical Syrian public's dismissal of Lakdhar Brahimi's initiative as too little, too late.  If more killing and more physical and psychological destruction of the country can be avoided by a political solution, however, I am all for it. One argument is that since the opposition is gaining the upper hand, at least militarily, then it is not time to stop until this murderous regime is completely dismantled.  That scenario presupposes that the regime is capable of realizing when it is defeated and when to throw in the towel. The last twenty one months have shown that this delusional, insular regime is incapable of such a rational decision; they will still be sending their MIGs on bombing missions when the rebel forces are gates of the presidential palace.

It is precisely because the rebels have the upper hand militarily that the opposition should opt for a political solution.  They will have the upper hand and can set the conditions of the transition especially now that the regime's staunchest backers, the Russian government, has essentially abandoned them. Actually, a political solution is a misnomer as it suggests some kind of negotiated compromise. It should more accurately be called a political transition; the only negotiations are on the terms of surrunder. It should be a forgone conclusion that there will be no room for Bashar or his inner circle in the transition but it will be vital to keep technocrats and middle and low level governments officials in place to maintain a functioning governmental structure.  The mukhabarat should be dismantled completely and the Syrian Army leadership should be restructured carefully.  Even the most thoughtful political transition, however, will be difficult and fraught with danger and yet the alternative of letting this drag on to a military victory will mean that the Syrian state will have to be built from scratch. Starting with a clean slate may have its attractions given the ingrained corruption fostered by two generations of Baathist rule but it is too simplistic a notion when dealing with a complex nation that has undergone the most profound period of strife since its independence. The lingering scars of war, displacement, economic hardship, the prospects of sectarian strife and breakdown of a structured governance system means that the situation will be nothing like a clean slate.

Bashar can opt for an ignominious end in some drainage ditch on the outskirts of Damascus or he can save his skin and be whisked off to some distant land. If the latter saves the Syrian people from the hell they are presently going through, then I am for it, provided he leaves without the people's money and that he and his cronies remain within reach of the international criminal court. In the end though, just as decision to militarize peaceful protests was in the hands the Syrian regime so too is the decision to stop it in favor of a political solution.  It is remains to be seen if the regime has broken out of its delusional bubble and now "gets it". If not then it is up to Bashar's allies, Russia and Iran, for their own political priorities to burst the delusional bubble that they helped create.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Interesting post. Please contact me at the Guardian to discuss matthew.weaver@guardian.co.uk