Solutions for Syria Crisis at the End of 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

The Vienna 2 conference on the future of Syria, which was held in the Austrian capital on October 30, 2015, was a step taken back by all players involved in the Syria crisis in order to get ready to move ahead, achieve a common understanding of the crisis, and begin a new process aimed at finding a political solution for the future of the country. International effort launched to resolve the Syria crisis in October 2015 was the most important topic on the agenda of several major international and multilateral conferences. Among those events, one can point out the meetings in Paris, preliminary meeting of the Munich Security Conference in Tehran, the Vienna 1 conference, Manama Dialogue, and the Vienna 2 conference.

According to discussions and discourse-based results of the aforesaid conferences, which took place in parallel to promotion of a critical discourse on the civil war in Syria, another round of talks aimed at finding a solution to the ongoing civil war in Syria is going to take place within the first two weeks of November 2015.

In view of the continuation of the ongoing all-out civil war in Syria, the nature of positions taken on this crisis as well as developments related to and results of the Vienna 2 conference on Syria, which had Iran as a participant for the first time, include serious lessons which can affect the future outlook of finding solutions to Syria crisis at the end of 2015. The first message and relatively satisfactory result of the Vienna 2 conference was about understanding the importance of Iran's presence in such dialogues as well as recognition of strategic relations that exist between Iran and Syria by the Western front.

The Iran deal and the subsequent invitation extended to Iran by big global powers for the first time to take part in official Syria peace talks in Vienna in July and November 2015, have collectively turned Iran into the biggest winner of global dialogues in 2015. As a result, the year 2015 has been surprisingly a year for the victory of Iran-centered global diplomacy in the historical city of Vienna.

The emphasis put by participants in the Vienna 2 conference on the important role that the United Nations can play in determining the future course of the Syria crisis proves that following 2015, such important international institutions and organizations as the UN, the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council [(P)GCC], the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Arab League, along with their related mechanisms, such as Staffan de Mistura, the UN special representative to Syria, will play a powerful steering role in future challenges of the Middle East. The past experience shows that no fundamental role had been recognized for these institutions in global crises through international meetings on Syria in 2015 as well as other important conferences that were held in this relation, including the Geneva 1 and Geneva 2 and … conferences. Lessons learned from crises in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen prove that in order to head off the spread of terrorism and extremism, preservation of state and civil institutions as well as the army and other military institutions of Syria is an important and basic step. The rules that regulate and support these institutions are rooted in simultaneous respect for international rights and institutions, and concurrent use of effective political tools. Therefore, international organizations and institutions can serve as a powerful and facilitating tool in forthcoming developments in order to find possible solutions to Syria crisis.

The balance of regional power, which was previously in favor of non-state and terrorist actors, has now tilted in favor of state actors in Syria after military interventionist action taken by Russia. Big powers, which are another effective component in Syria crisis, can not only take action to rebuild lost political and geopolitical opportunities and find sustainable solutions, but can also work to balance the behavior and intentions of actors involved in Syria crisis. Actors like Germany, Italy, China, Australia, UN, EU, and some Arab countries are among those actors which can play a balancing role in this process.

Some consequences of the Syria crisis, including the refugee crisis, proxy wars, reproduction of extremism and terrorism, as well as blatant mistakes made by both the Western and Eastern fronts have proven that Daesh terrorist group, as the common enemy and the main focus for international community, must be seriously fought against as the most important foe of all actors that are directly or indirectly involved in this crisis.

In the age of non-polarity, the world order in the Middle East is changing like other parts of the world and global demands in this regard are one of the most important concerns for the public opinion in 2015. Although pacifist analysts are not optimistic about seeing an end to violence and conflicts in the Middle East in the near future in view of the escalation of the Syria crisis, offering intermediate and model-building solutions would raise hope about gradual and balanced termination of the Syria crisis beyond 2015. Intermediate, model-building and mediatory solutions are among main options for the resolution of the Syria crisis beyond 2015, which on the basis of a combination of national dialogues, gives and takes, and possible tactical agreements, can lead to gradual creation of a new order in the Middle East in the future outlook.

Real strategic patience at the end of 2015, inter-Syrian talks, avoiding any measure that may further exacerbate the critical situation in Syria, show of goodwill by all actors in the forthcoming political process, and taking effective advantage of opportunities related to intermediate, model-building and mediatory solutions will raise hopes among politicians and global public opinion about termination of Syria crisis beyond 2015.

Key Words: Syria Crisis, 2015, Vienna 2 Conference, Civil War, Western Front, Strategic Relations, Balance of Power, Inter-Syrian Talks, Mediatory Solutions, Khoshandam

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*Photo Credit: Reality News