What Is Best Solution to Syria Crisis: Transition Process or Transitional Government?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nosratollah Tajik, Iran’s Former Ambassador to Jordan

The latest round of Geneva 2 international negotiations on the ongoing crisis in Syria, which were held in the Swiss city of Geneva aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the crisis, ended without a conclusive result. Given the current situation in Syria, perhaps it would have been a surprise if the negotiations had reached a final outcome! Both sides of the conflict have left the negotiating table apparently because of their failure to reach a single position on the establishment of a transitional government in the war-wracked country.

The United Nations and its Special Representative on Syria [Lakhdar Brahimi] seemed to have ignored the fact that the domestic and foreign forces involved in the Syria crisis were pursuing different goals during the conference. The current situation in Syria cannot be defined by a linear political equation in which two belligerent parties would be able to negotiate the country’s problems in a bid to find solutions to those problems. The Syria equation is currently too complicated as foreign-backed elements are playing an effective part in any effort that aims to settle the crisis in the Arab country. Both regional powers, like Iran and Saudi Arabia – not to mention Turkey and Qatar whose financial and logistical investments in Syria have already failed – as well as international and transregional powers such as the United States and Russia are playing a part in this crisis.

The United Nations started to make mistakes during Geneva 1 conference [held in June 2012] because the United States and its allies strongly believed that they would be able to change the situation in Syria as they had already done in Libya. Therefore, their main goal was to bring about the downfall of [the incumbent Syria President] Bashar Assad and, as such, were looking for a substitute for him. Other participants were also insisting on the necessity of establishing a transitional government in Syria in the absence of a number of main elements which play a determining role in Syria. Transitional government is an issue whose various aspects have not been clarified yet and it will take a long time before the two sides can reach an agreement on its details. However, no established government which has control over even small parts of the country will ever accept to give way to a transitional government.

Even mere acceptance of a transitional government with the emphasis and reservation that both sides to this issue – that is, the Syrian government and the opposition – should reach an agreement over its details, will have no legal and political significance because it will take a very long time before the two sides reach such an agreement over the details. This was the main reason why the latest round of Geneva negotiations hit a deadlock because the opposition does not have enough power to topple Assad while the Syrian government, on the other hand, has the upper hand in the war theater. Under these circumstances it seems that the domestic and foreign opposition in Syria, especially the Western and Arab countries, do not have a good understanding of the transitional government. The incumbent Syrian government should also concede to the establishment of such a government, and it is obvious that Assad’s government will never do that. Therefore, the West is trying to finalize establishment of the transitional government, as the first step, before taking the second step by taking concessions from Bashar Assad and finally excluding him and his elected government from the process of power transition through political and propaganda pressures. Emphasis on legal issues such as the alleged massacre of innocent people by Syrian government forces on the eve of the Geneva 2 conference could be analyzed along the same lines.

At any rate, instead of playing with concepts and words, killing time, and adding to the suffering of the Syrian people, the best way to find an overarching solution to the Syria crisis is to put emphasis on the process of transition in the country as opposed to transitional government. The involved parties should not restrict their efforts to wrangling over concepts whose true meanings and dimensions will take months and even years to elucidate. The transition process, which can be initiated by the legitimate government of Syria under the supervision of an international institutions right after the conclusion of negotiations, will start with cease-fire. It will then continue until a new constitution is formulated and approved and general outlines of the government structure and political participation of people are determined through free elections attended by the majority of the Syrian people under a democratic atmosphere with no sign of war and bloodshed.

Key Words: Syria Crisis, Transition Process, Transitional Government, Geneva 2, Lakhdar Brahimi, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bashar Assad, Tajik

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

*Photo Credit: Islamic Invitation Turkey

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