Syria without Assad

Syrian warring parties had met in Geneva on March 4, 2017. The agenda of the negotiations was revolving around three major areas, i.e., establishment of a new constitution, accountable governance and peaceful transition under United Nations supervised elections within 18 month. In 2015, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had passed a resolution 2254, which adopted these three foundations for peaceful settlement of the Syrian civil war. While America and Russia are meddling into Syrian affairs, and international demand ousting Bashar-al-Assad is legally bound under UNSC resolution 2254, the question rises that what will be the future of Syria without Assad?

What happed to Libya after Muammar Gaddafi? Iraq is still seeking peace after Saddam Hussein. Fragile security environment in Tunisia and replacement of a dictator with a dictator in Egypt shows edgy socio-political fabric of this region. The ‘Arab Spring’ has been proved as ‘Arab Autumn’ after the devastation of socio-economic and political fabric of the region. Syria is also the victim of so called ‘Arab Spring’, which is burning owning to the desire ousting Bashar-al-Assad’s from power.

Generally, all opposition parties have two larger demands. The first demand carries unanimous consent of all opposition parties, i.e., ousting Assad from power corridors. However, second demand of each political party varies, which not only highly confusing but dangerous simultaneously as each political party trying to promote their respective ideologies in Syria. Leftist communist parties particularly Communist Labour Party is promoting class struggle, while rightists parties such as Democratic National Rally of Syria, Kurdish Democratic Alliance, Committees for Revival of Civil Society are trying to introduce high standards of democracy in Syria. The central forces are trying to protect their socio-economic interests, while religious parties such as Muslim Brotherhood is focusing on religion, which is further baffling the common public of Syria. These opposition groups are further divided over long term Syrian fault lines, i.e., sects, economic class and religion.

Despite numerous efforts to establish coordination among various political opposition groups, the coordination is still a dream. Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) established by RazanZaitouneh, Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union (SRCU) established by Amer-al-Sadeq, Syrian Revolution General Commission (SRGC) established by Suhair-al-Atassi, are some coordination forums for devising grand strategy against Assad’s regime. However these all coordination forums further lack coordination among themselves. It is highly likely that this political fragmentation and lack of coordination and consensus will put Syria into further political chaos without Assad as the country has not been evolved from patrimonial state to a modern democratic state.

Whether some segments of society like it or not, Assad still enjoys support of across sects, across religion and across economic classes in Syria.Most of the Christians feel safe under Assad’s regime. In post conflict era and during state building, nations require new social actors and strong political leadership. Unfortunately, there is no other proper alternate political leadership available in the country, which may maintain cultural, religious and economic harmony among all segments of Syrian population. The opposition seems highly fragmented promoting their self-interests. Hence, Assad remains the only political figure, which may keep united these all segment of society.

Despite such larger social, political and economic fragmentation, opposition has failed to grab support of working class of Syria. The owners of industries are also not supporting anti-regime movement. The inability of controlling violence by anti-regime armed militias during the negotiation process further shows weakness of opposition parties. The fact is that armed militias, criminals and sectarian hardliners have already hijacked the nonviolent movement against Assad’s regime. Will they be able to control Free Syrian Army and other numerous armed militias after ousting Assad? The answer is ‘NO’, which will lead to more deteriorating situation.

The Syrian political struggle unfortunately presented an impression that it is against theAlawites and religious minorities. In fact, the whole Syrian struggle has been sectarian.Currently, Christians, Twelver Shia and Alawites of Syria consider opposition as an existential threat to their respective communities. Therefore, they are supporting Assad’s leadership and supporting regimes’ activities against opposition forces. Since 17 July 2000, Assad has been the center of gravity for all segments of Syrian society. Ousting Assad without finding proper political replacement and a system – not borrowed from the West – will likely lead towards political and security disaster not only Syria but theregion as a whole.

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