Keeping Assad in Power Is the Only Way to Peace in Syria

To understand the extent of complexity in the Syrian conflict, some of the views of Jamil Sawda, a Syria specialist, in his August 29, 2013 interview with ABC news are examined. [1] Who is supporting whom, and what comes next for the country. His views as an expert on the subject are quite similar to mine and are used in expressing and fortifying my views.

Foreign countries, particularly some of those from the Gulf area, to compete for influence, are backing their own militant or political groups. At the same time, insurgents have been increasingly dependent on foreign-sponsored support for their logistics that only foreign governments, not jihadi extremists, can supply. In this process, eager to maintain their own financial supporters, they end up to do other countries biddings which make extremely difficult the prospect of a unified opposition.

So far, the reason for the prominence and success of hard-line insurgents in 2012 and part of 2013 has been their superior material resources. Significant hard-line forces such as Ahrar al-Sham, a leading member of the Syrian Islamic Front and Free Syrian Army, an umbrella of various groups, have had a growing presence on the ground and on the front-line of most offensive attacks. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, with no doubt is ready to make a comeback to become a major player mainly because secular opposition groups are badly divided while Islamists are highly organized.

More likely, the Muslim Brotherhood would support rebel groups.They have their own militia gathered under the Shields of the Revolution and the Committee for the Protection of Civilians. The complexity develops further due to the deep-seated division within the opposition forces themselves, each vying for dominance.

Developments favoring he government

According to Dr. Christof Lehmann, an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution, a successful subversion of the Syrian government with militants becomes increasingly unlikely [2]. His views are supported if we realize that the military forces have inflicted heavy losses on the NATO and GCC backed insurgents. Also, a direct military intervention by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, or any of the NATO member states becomes increasingly unlikely, while Russia and China continue preventing another Libya-style intervention. Meanwhile, Russia, Syria and Iran seem successful at conveying that a military aggression against Syria would have catastrophic regional and potentially global consequences. At the same time, the government has not only been very active, but very successful in molding opposition parties reform movements as well as religious and ethnic groups into a coherent and constructive alliance for peace, reconciliation and reform.

The government’s strategy of inclusiveness and amnesty on one hand, and combating terrorism and armed subversion on the other, continues to pay peace dividends. The question is, how long time will it take and how many lives will be lost on both sides or injured, before international diplomacy begins constructive negotiations about the core issues that caused the crisis.

The national reconciliation process is beginning to gain momentum, as national Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar tours Syrian provinces to boost the implementation of the political program that has recently been approved by the government and representatives of opposition parties, religious communities, reform as well as youth movements, tribal and ethnic groups agents, and others who are taking part in realization of the program.

A new initiative of the government focuses on repatriating those who went abroad to join the foreign backed subversion attempts. The Syrian Minister of Interior, Lt. General Mohammad al-Shaar has stated that border crossing centers will offer all necessary facilities and assurances to all opposition forces which enter the country to take part in the national dialogue.

The latest initiative is a continuation of a successful strategy, which the government has consistently used since the onset of crisis some two years ago. Several general amnesties have yielded results, giving those who initially have been misled or swept into the events by the force of the situation, a possibility to return to a national life, and take active part in the reform and reconciliation process. The general amnesties have especially given possibility to those who initially took up arms, but who became increasingly concerned about the influx of Salafist terrorist organizations, to realign themselves with the peaceful reform process and the Syrian armed forces.

Up to the present, the armed forces have continued their crackdown on terrorist groups in Daraya, Douma, al-Husseineih, al-Bahdalieh, and al-Dhivabieh in the greater Damascus Region. The army has also confronted insurgents in the al-Fashoukh farms west of the city of Daraya. Insurgrnts here have taken substantial losses.

Clashes took also place on the Darab al-Hidad road to the National Hospital and at Shreida Square where the military confronted remnants of terrorist cells, and in several other locations throughout the country including the greater Aleppo region and Idlib, where an insurgent attack on the Central prison has been repelled in Hama and Daraa.

Speaking in Damascus in mid-August Assad praised recent gains by his military forces across the country and said „War is only way to end terrorism“ „Syria can finish off insurgency within months if people fight with the army through a popular war.“ Unity between the army and people will terminate terrorism, he said.

„Terrorism and politics are complete opposites,“ said Assad, who considers all rebel groups and many opposition figures fighting for his ouster as“ terrorists.“ „There cannot be political action and progress on the political track while terrorism hits everywhere.“ he told prominent members of Syria’s clergy, business, and arts community gathered for an „iftar“ to break the fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. „No solution can be reached with terror except by striking it with an iron fist,“ he has said.

At the same time, the presence of foreign fighters has grown among rebel ranks and al-Qaida-linked groups have taken control of some opposition-held territory worrying supporters of the opposition in the West and the Middle East. [3]

Israel wants to keep Assad in power

An informed investigation of the crisis in the region clearly point out deep troubles Israel faces surrounded by enemy states except Syria. Its leaders are keenly concerned with developments and express their worrisome views.

According to Jerusalem (AFP) May 22, 2013 – Middle East, the head of Israel’s air force has indicated that unrest in the region increases the chance of Israel becoming embroiled in a surprised war. There are indications that Israel wants to keep Bashar al-Assad in power but suitably weakened because an Islamist regime taking over in Damascus would be much too dangerous.

Although Israel has not formally acknowledged mounting the airstrikes, there is little doubt which country in the Middle East could have carried them out. The targets were all Russian surface-to-air or Iranian surface-to-surface missiles. The Israelis say, they were to be handed over to Hezbollah, the Iranian backed Lebanese Shiite movement whose forces are fighting by thousands alongside Assad’s troops.

According to Abdul Qader Saleh, commander of the rebel al-Tawhid Brigade, the Syrian opposition was on the verge of taking over Assad’s weapons caches, and that is why Israel attacked Syria. The assault was in support of Assad. He added that Israel is cooperating with Iran and Hezbollah – its two most dangerous enemies – to prevent the fall of Assad, who has defended Israel’s borders for more than 40 years.

Efraim Halevy, the former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligent service, gave some weight to the assertion that Israel doesn’t want to see Assad gone. „Israel’s most significant strategic goal with respect to Syria has always been a stable peace, which is not something that the current civil war has changed,“ he wrote in the May edition of Foreign Affairs.

„Israel knows one thing about the Assads, for the past 40 years they have managed to preserve some form of calm along the border… Indeed, even when Israeli and Syrian forces were briefly locked in fierce fighting in 1982 during Lebanon’s civil war, the border remained quiet.“

However, it seems that a much profound line of thought regarding the strategic self-interest occupies the Israeli mind. Keeping Assad in power means Iran, which Israel’s prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu considers as Israel’s greatest enemy, will be tied down keeping its sole Arab ally and its only pass way to Lebanon in power. The same kind of interpretation is expressed by Thanassis Combsnis of the Century Foundation think tank in the Journal of Foreign Policy: „The conflict shows no sign of ending and as foreign aid to the rebels escalates, Iran will have to pour in more and more resources simply to maintain a stalemate.“ ]4]

In Conclusion, at the moment, Iran, Lebanon, and Russia are allies of Assad and assist him in his battle against terrorists which include also the insurgents. Israel strongly supports keeping Assad in power but somehow weekend. Assad’s military is gaining ground nearly everywhere, and his programs of amnesty and reconciliation and allowing some provincial reforms places him in a dominant position. There seems to be no reasonable or easy solution to the crisis. The acceptace of foreign control of solving the issue of chemical weapons as proposed and mediated by Russia gave Assad the opportunity to remain in power for quite a while. Some countries in the region and the opposing or foreign groups within Syria must choose the least of two evils, Assad or extremist Islamists. The choice seems to be obvious.

Dr. Reza Rezazadeh (B.S.M.E., LL.B., J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., S.J.D.)



[1] Jamil Sawda previously worked on the Iraq Desk at the UN in New York. He holds a BA from Macquarie University, an MA on Middle East and Central Asian studies, an MA on Diplomacy and a Graduate Diploma on Strategic Affairs from the Australian National University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the university of Canberra focusing on diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria.

]2] Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. His work with traumatized victims of conflict has led him to also pursue to work as political consultant. He has been a lifelong activist for peace and justice, human rights, Palestinian rights for self-determination in Palestine. He is also working on the establishment of international institutions for the prosecution of all war crimes including those committed by privileged nations. In 2011 he started his blog nsnbc and in 2013 he turned nsnbc into a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper at

[3] Reuters Report, „Syria’s Assad: War Is Only Way to End Terrorism“. Voice of America, August 5, 2013.

[4] See Space War Report, by ITT Technical Institute, „Israel Wants to Keep Assad in Power“. Beirut, Lebanon (UPI) May 22, 2013.

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