Monday, June 11, 2012

Syria: Planning the Transition

International preparation are underway for a conference on Syria. This conference is to be held either in Moscow or Geneva. Unlike previous conferences, which contributed to the polarization between the international powers, this conference aspires to be all inclusive. The conference will include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, US, UK, France, Russia and China. In addition to: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, UN and Arab League. Currently, the contentious point seems to be Iran's participation, which is objected to by the US and Saudi Arabia.

Coordinating among the external players is crucial to end the blood shed in Syria. The polarizing effects of contradictory massages coming from the international community in the past year was mirrored by streams of blood and violence in Syrian towns and villages. With one side Russia and China supporting the Syrian government and calling on the regime and the opposition to negotiate the transition, and another side US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia encouraging the opposition to dismiss these calls and arm the rebels; violence and chaos has permeated the Syrian scene. 

Drafting a transition period and a post-Assad government seems to be more likely than ever. The time is ripe for a compromise between the major powers. The exit strategy for al-Assad is on the table, all concerned parties agree now, even Russia, that in all likelihood, al-Assad needs to go. 

Another crucial development is the structural overhaul of the Syrian National Council (SNC). The representative of the outside Syrian opposition, SNC, has restructured and expanded its membership, and has elected a new president. Dr. Sayda, the new president is an independent Syrian dissident. As a  Sunni and a Kurd, he is likely to understand the sensitivities of the majority in Syria, the Sunnis, and be receptive to the concerns of minorities. 

This is a great boost to the council, which was perceived in the past as exclusive and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. This new expansion and leadership in SNC will introduce the critical inclusive, moderate tone required for the opposition representative to coordinate amongst the different opposition factions, and to calm the fears of religious and ethnic minorities in Syria. 

These two crucial developments are steps towards starting the negotiations for an exit plan for the regime, and a gradual transitional period. Including Iran in the initial transition negotiations is crucial, the level with which Iran will have a say in a post-Assad Syria, though, is up for negotiation.

سوريا حبيبتي..الحرية و الكرامة

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