Syria without Assad

Khurram Minhas

SYRIAN warring parties had met in Geneva on March 4, 2017. The agenda of the negotiations was revolving around three major areas, i.e., establishment of a new constitution, accountable governance and peaceful transition under United Nations supervised elections within 18 month. In 2015, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had passed a resolution 2254, which adopted these three foundations for peaceful settlement of the Syrian civil war.
While America and Russia are meddling into Syrian affairs, and international demand ousting Bashar-al-Assad is legally bound under UNSC resolution 2254, the question rises that what will be the future of Syria without Assad? Generally, all opposition parties have two larger demands. The first demand carries unanimous consent of all opposition parties, i.e., ousting Assad from power corridors. However, second demand of each political party varies, which not only highly confusing but dangerous simultaneously as each political party trying to promote their respective ideologies in Syria.
Leftist communist parties particularly Communist Labour Party is promoting class struggle, while rightists parties such as Democratic National Rally of Syria, Kurdish Democratic Alliance, Committees for Revival of Civil Society are trying to introduce high standards of democracy in Syria. The central forces are trying to protect their socio-economic interests, while religious parties such as Muslim Brotherhood is focusing on religion, which are further baffling common public of Syria.
These opposition groups are further divided over long term Syrian fault lines, i.e., sects, economic class and religion. Either some segments of society like it or not, Assad still enjoys support of cross sect, cross religion and cross economic classes in Syria. Most of the Christians feel safe under Assad’s regime. In post conflict era and during state building, nations require new social actors and strong political leadership. Unfortunately, there is no other proper alternate political leadership available in the country, which may maintain cultural, religious and economic harmony among all segments of Syrian population. The opposition seems highly fragmented promoting their self-interests. Hence, Assad remains the only political figure, which may keep united these all segment of society.
Despite such larger social, political and economic fragmentation, opposition has failed to grab support of working class of Syria. The owners of industries are also not supporting anti-regime movement. The inability of controlling violence by anti-regime armed militias during the negotiation process further shows weakness of opposition parties. The fact is that armed militias, criminals, sectarian hardliners have already hijacked the nonviolent movement against Assad’s regime. Will they be able to control Free Syrian Army and other numerous armed militias after ousting Assad? The answer is ‘NO’, which will lead to more deteriorating situation.
The Syrian political struggle unfortunately presented an impression that it is against theAlawites and religious minorities. In fact, the whole Syrian struggle has been sectarianise.Currently, Christians, Twelver Shia and Alawites of Syria consider opposition as an existential threat to their respective communities. Therefore, they are supporting Assad’s leadership and supporting regimes’ activities against opposition forces.
— The writer works for Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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