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Collapse or Reforms?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Abolqasem Qasemzadeh

The Syrian crisis has become subject to time and over time two political lines have been differentiated from each other. The first front is led by the United States which is acting in concert with four regional states including Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel in order to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The other line is that of implementing reforms in Syria which is supported by Russia, China, India as well as several Asian, African and Latin American governments. Bashar al-Assad has been trying to advance reforms by announcing plans to change the socio-political structure in Syria, which range from modifying the Syrian constitution and moving from a uni-party - Ba’ath party - to a multi-party system of governance through holding parliamentary elections according to the new constitution and in a competitive way among the existing parties and political groups to removing the lifelong presidency of a person from the Syrian constitution.

The regime overthrow front, which is led by the US government, enjoys the vast financial support of two oil-rich countries, namely Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Turkish government, that considers its foreign policy as an instrument for achieving financial and commercial gains, has found it opportune to align itself with these two Arab countries and work towards bringing to power a weak government in Syria in the wake of Assad’s downfall as both the political orientations of opposition Kurds in Turkey and the Assad family’s Alawite origins have invariably been causes for concern in Ankara. Accepting the mantra of Assad overthrow, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing certain political objectives - among which the US satisfaction with it is the most important - rather than trying to set the ground for the execution of reforms in Syria, and in so doing, it enjoys Qatar and Saudi petrodollars. To put it more simply, in the Syrian predicament, Erdogan is both securing political advantages and making commercial and financial gains.

Though from a political perspective, the Turkish government defines itself as European state – not a Middle Eastern one – the European Union has not yet opened its doors completely and formally to Ankara and agreed to its full and formal accession to the bloc. The current financial and economic problems in Europe have sharpened and reinvigorated Turkey’s Middle East policy, which is on the one hand aimed at establishing closer relations with the wealthy and oil-rich countries in the region and at attaining greater harmony and conformity with Washington’s regional policies on the other. Erdogan acceded to Obama’s plan to deploy a NATO-operated missile defense system on Turkish soil and thus bypassed both Russia and Iran through such an agreement and in fact did not take their opposition to the initiative seriously. The Qatari and Saudi governments are publicly advocating a war to overthrow the Syrian regime of Assad and have accordingly offered to procure weapons for the armed groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad.

These two countries are ready to put their dollar budgets for arms purchases at “Erdogan’s” disposal so that he undertakes to direct the war against his neighbouring country from within Turkish border areas. His policies are accompanied by popular slogans, which along with the intensive propaganda spread by the Arab media of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia - Al-Jazeera and Alarabiya - in support of him, is making a favourable figure of Turkish prime minister in the regional public opinion. So far, Erdogan has managed, with the help of the US, Qatari and Saudi governments, to lead the attempts at overthrowing Bashar al-Assad under the pretext of defending the defenseless people of Syria and opposing their massacre. It should be noted, however, that by adopting such an approach, he is trying to maintain his power, which emanates from US and Western supports, while portraying his political manoeuvres at the international level, which are sponsored by powerful Western media and the groups associated with the Zionist lobbies, as humanitarian and aimed at establishing justice. In addition, pressing on with such a practice provides the Turkish government with profitable trade opportunities and generates good revenues for it.

But the motto of overthrowing Bashar al-Assad government has reached a dead end.

1) The United Nations faces serious difficulties in securing the necessary resolutions against the Syrian government from the Security Council and the opposition of Russia and China, which enjoy the right of veto, to the United States which have blocked the passage of resolutions favoured by the US and its allies in the region.

2) While succeeding in suppressing Syria’s armed opposition forces in the Syrian towns bordering Turkey and Lebanon, Bashar al-Assad is advancing the government-declared reforms step by step inside Syria. On the one hand, the armed struggle against Damascus has proved abortive, and therefore in order to transform the scenario, the governments seeking to oust Assad should either carry out the scheme of spreading a civil war across Syria or launch heavy bombardments against the country through “NATO,” which involves great risks, particularly because both China and Russia invariably warn the West, the US and Europe against taking such a measure.

3) Bashar al-Assad has in one way or another enjoyed the support of the majority Syrian people until now. Syrians are living in constant fear of the possibility that the experience of NATO-led bombardments as well as civil war in Libya might be repeated in their own country. Moreover, the opponents of Bashar al-Assad constitute a disharmonious spectrum which even the Zionist regime of Israel does not regard as worthy of support and has not yet counted upon.

4) The international community has gradually come to believe that the Syrian crisis has no foreign-imposed solution and should be settled from within and through expediting the process of reforms.

5) The Syrian crisis has reached a sensitive point where any expansion of militarism will upset many equations beyond the borders of Syria. The Obama administration has realized this worrying issue.

In these circumstances, as the mantra of toppling Bashar al-Assad does not work as the United States, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia wish and the Syrian president is consolidating his position of power inside Syria, the initiative of “Kofi Annan,” the former UN secretary general, has been put forward. The selection of “Annan,” who has a good image as a politician and mediator on the international scene, is a very clever and subtle move. All parties involved, ranging from Bashar al-Assad in Syria through his opponents to member of the United Nations Security Council, have accepted his plan, but the US is constantly pointing out that time is running out and this is Bashar al-Assad’s last chance to resolve the crisis peacefully. Annan’s six-point plan includes a fundamental part, that is, the deployment of UN forces in Syria. If such a deployment, which has been planned to take place towards late April, is carried out without any tension, the reforms will be more likely to take effect.

Though Erdogan does not express opposition to Annan’s initiative, he pretends that he is waiting. In the coming weeks, all parties will eagerly observe how “Annan’s” plan is being implemented. The Erdogan administration has been questioned by the rival parties inside Turkey. His political manoeuvre with regard to reducing Turkey’s oil imports from Iran by 20 percent and compensating for it by purchasing crude from Libya as well as holding the “Friend of Syria” meeting in the country - in which Russia, China, India and the countries which approve of enacting reforms in Syria did not take part – is a defeat for him. The criticism levelled against Erdogan’s policies by the Iranian politicians has grabbed the headlines these days while foreign media interpret it as an area of difference and division between Iran and Turkey. Around the same time, Erdogan talked about Iran before a gathering of foreign correspondent with a rude language which was immediately corrected afterwards by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

If Erdogan’s policies of alignment with the United States, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel have run into trouble, behaving aggressively and exchanging undiplomatic and unfriendly words by two friendly and brotherly countries are not the solution. The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the implementation of reforms in Syria, a type of support which serves the interests of the Syrian people and aims to promote peace and construction in the country. The respected prime minister of Turkey can have the courage, in this sensitive situation, to correct his positions rather than stepping in the path of war and destruction, which is certainly what the United States and Israel are seeking.

Iran and Turkey are two powerful and friendly countries which compete in a constructive manner with each other and try to establish sustainable peace in the Middle East region and peaceful coexistence between its Muslim nations and governments. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s political differences with Turkey are very few in comparison with the two countries’ political commonalities. Let these two powerful and brotherly countries lead peace, not war, for the Middle East.

Source: Ettelaat Newspaper
http://www.ettelaat.com
Translated By: Iran Review

More By Abolqasem Qasemzadeh:

*The West Put to Test in Syria: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/The_West_Put_to_Test_in_Syria.htm

*Threat and Sanctions: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Threat_and_Sanctions.htm

*Resumption of Negotiations between Iran and P5+1: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Resumption_of_Negotiations_between_Iran_and_P5_1.htm

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