The Obstacles to Reaching a Negotiated Settlement in Syria

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Benedetta Berti and Cameron S. Brown - The failed attempts to seek a peaceful end to Syria's ghastly bloodshed signal that all efforts to obtain a negotiated resolution to the conflict in the near future are unlikely to succeed. Given what each side stands to lose should it concede defeat, the possibility of achieving a purely diplomatic solution is extraordinarily dim. The Syrian uprising is most likely to end in one of two ways: either one side will eventually suppress the other entirely, or outside actors will impose an end to the slaughter and oversee a political transition. The regime is still largely cohesive and determined to crush the opposition, despite ongoing defections from the military. Besides the support of most Alawites, the regime has successfully cultivated the support of other minority groups, such as the country's Christians. Moreover, a sizable number of Sunnis who live in the main urban centers like Damascus and Halib (Aleppo) support the regime, or benefit greatly from it, and thus stand to lose should the Assad regime collapse. On the other side is the country's Sunni majority, especially the poor living in the countryside, who for decades have been eager to see an end to the Assad tyranny. They, like their Libyan counterparts, know quite well that if they end the protests, the regime will spare no effort to hunt down its leadership. They realize that if the opposition fails now, it may be decades before another opportunity arises. Both sides perceive the conflict in similar zero-sum terms, and neither side trusts its adversary to live up to its end of any substantive bargain.

2012-07-06 00:00:00

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