The end of the Syrian war requires an intellectual breakthrough

What will be the post-war arrangement of Syria?

Russia has to find the answer to this question, since the Syrians themselves openly ignore them, and the West is still trying to do everything in its own way, regardless of the real state of affairs at the front. As a consequence, an important project for the whole Syrian world depends almost entirely on “Russian thought”.

After a series of negotiations in Sochi, the emphasis in the Syrian settlement is on the creation of the constitutional foundations of the post-war state structure. To coordinate them, the future Congress of the Peoples of Syria is planned, which was originally appointed on November 18, but was subsequently postponed. The case turned out to be more complicated than the one conceived: one has to inspire the Syrian opposition with the idea of having to deal with constitutional principles, rather than with momentary formalities. Despite the objective military victory of Damascus, the slogan “Assad must go away” still exists.

However, this is the easiest of the problems that have to be solved.

Discussions mainly revolve around two drafts of the Constitution, developed in Moscow. Countries – guarantors of armistice and equated to them come to do for the opposition the work that professional fighters with the regime of Bashar Assad could not do in five years, namely, to unite them.

For the civil war in Syria, in principle, there is a huge amount of verbal tinsel, primarily loud statements about the unification or renaming of certain armed groups. As a result – a huge number of participants in various conferences in Astana, Geneva, Riyadh, Qatar. Some have to be put to the negotiating table by kicks and slaps with the “Caliber”, and some should not be invited, based on the oriental principles of respect, although there is no practical sense in their presence. The number of conference participants from 500 to 1000 people is already a familiar figure, and protocol staff from the amount of work are graying just before our eyes. Sometimes we really want to ask – who are all these people in general?

Opposition groups often do not trust each other even more than they do not trust Damascus or Moscow. Sometimes they express distrust of this or that site, where they “have not been given due respect”. So, at the conference that is being held right now in the capital of Saudi Arabia, which was designated as “Riyadh-2”, there are no Syrian oppositionists who previously participated in the “Riyadh-1”, because they considered the event a formality and headed for Sochi.

And still there were almost 150 delegation leaders beside huge amount of participants.

Thus, it is more difficult to formulate oppositional groups into something more or less united, than physically to break them apart. And this task is not so much even diplomatic as organizational, but to the transition to peaceful construction in Syria, it by and large has only an indirect relationship. Now not only the oppositionists themselves, but also many commentators are seriously involved in the “formation of coalitions” and virtual “respect”, which is fascinating in terms of arranging conferences, but it makes no sense in determining the real future of the country.

It’s all about principles, but they’re just simple. Syria remains united within the internationally recognized borders. At the same time, its new state model must take into account the results of the war and, if possible, eliminate its underlying causes. This is not such an impossible task, if you do not work in the mode of a shepherd dog collie, driving one stubborn oppositionist and “giving them respect,” and identify the very reasons that led to the war.

Surprisingly, those opposition groups that have some real support “on the ground” are much more productive in terms of negotiations than purely emigrant groups. At least, they are ready to hold elections and do not expose obviously impossible conditions such as “Bashar must leave”. Of course, there are also complications here, for example, some want a piece of power right now, for some “transition period”, as if they forgot that the war was generally won by Assad, which is not in the yard by 2014, and that they should respect the victorious side.

With the internationally recognized borders of Syria, everything seems to be unambiguous. This issue is not so much an intra-Syrian issue as for the guarantor countries and neighbors. The problem is in Idlib, for which Turkey should answer in theory.

She needs guarantees of borders on the Kurdish direction, which in principle is achievable. But Damascus is really concerned about the presence of foreign troops on the territory of the country, first of all it is not clear what is doing there the American contingent.

The evacuation of Americans and small groups of foreign special forces (for example, Italian, which undertook to guarantee the interests of Italian capital on the cascade of dams on the Euphrates) is not a matter of negotiations, but a matter of prestige. They must go quietly, they do not have to force Trump to make humiliating statements, it’s not easy for him.

Now, Americans are linking their military presence in Syria with the presence in Syria of Iran and Hezbollah, and clearly from the submission of Israel.

It is also a question to be solved, the main thing is not to produce conspiracy theories “about the Shiite corridor from Tehran to Haifa.” Next, the most laborious and interesting begins. In theory, in the new Syrian state, the interests of all religious, ethnic and tribal groups must be taken into account, with the exception of discredited jihadists and some particularly militant tribes. Previously, this resulted in the experts (mostly Russian) experts who were studying the millimeter maps, which is also part of the work, but tactical.

The “Lebanese version” was suggested – the constitutional consolidation of state positions on the religious principle. For example: head of state – Alawite, Prime – Sunni, head of Parliament – Christian or Shiite and so on. At the same time, the parliament is bicameral: the lower chamber is elected according to universal suffrage, the upper one – according to religious-national quotas. Separate thing is self-management for some small but important communities (for example, Armenians and Druze) and Kurdistan’s autonomy. It’s easier to negotiate with the Kurds than with many others. They do not claim to go beyond their ethnic range, despite the fact that after the capture of Rakka, some Kurdish refugees began to migrate there and Kurdish language in the ruins of the city is now heard even more often than the Arab one. Also publicly announced plans for fixing the Kurds east coast of the Euphrates. But all this is more propaganda than real plans: Kurds are traded, they do so always and everywhere. But even with the help of the Americans, even despite the seizure of the Omar oil field at Deir ez Zor, they could not grab more territory than they can digest. At the same time, the experience of recent events in Iraq showed that for a part of the oil revenues “right now” the Kurds are ready to refuse even the results of the referendum on independence, which is advantageously different from those for whom independence is more expensive than money. What is more important in such behavior – momentary greed or strategic calculation, is of course important, but this logic can be understood and forgiven. The main thing is to remember that Bashar Assad returned them civil rights (his father Hafez denied the Kurds even in Syrian citizenship), but further concessions are possible for Damascus only on a limited scale. The Lebanese model has a significant drawback – it does not save even Lebanon itself from periodic conflicts and the struggle for power. Once it seemed almost a universal method of appeasement of countries with a complex national and religious composition. But since the 60s of the last century the world has become more complicated, and the simple fixation of the presence of national and religious groups on a permanent position in power is no longer considered a solution. A simple example: during the USSR of the pre-Gorbachev era in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous District, the first secretary was always Russian, Council – Chechen, Prime – Ingush. And what did it save?

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