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Syrian conflict: no light at the end of the tunnel yet

March 16, 2015, 21:11 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Syria’s armed conflict is four years old, but no light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, although Bashar Assad’s regime has proved far more stable than many had originally anticipated, Russian experts told TASS. In their opinion, Moscow had taken a constructive stance from the outset, and this has allowed for achieving certain results already.

It is too early to say the end of hostilities is near, though, the chief of the international affairs sector at the Center of Arab Research of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, MGIMO lecturer Irina Zvyagelskaya, has told TASS. "However, there is the understanding that it cannot be resolved by military means. Both Bashar Assad’s supporters and military opposition are getting aware of this. The stumbling block is the opposition is not united: there are those who have a realistic vision of the situation and the radical elements. For instance, the Islamic State, which controls a rather vast territory. "These pose a threat to the whole world. The civil war in Syria has given birth to a monster."

A certain turn has developed, though: there is the understanding that armed standoff in this situation is senseless, Zvyagelskaya said. But peace will be no easy to achieve: the opposition has many constraints, Assad’s regime is rather harsh. A recent statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry to the effect it would be possible to conduct talks with Assad was indicative of possible shifts. "If Assad goes, the moderate opposition will be wiped out within a matter of minutes. That would be a terrible option, and the awareness of that is growing."

"The civil war in Syria, even if the Islamic State is eliminated, will go on, because the parties to the conflict have outside support," the leading research fellow at the Oriental Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sotnikov, has told TASS. The Bashar Assad regime, he recalled, has proved legitimate contrary to US forecasts — a majority voted for it in the election. It has proved amazingly stable, Sotnikov added. In his opinion Washington’s number one task is struggle with the Islamic State, and for that the US is prepared to use even Syria’s government troops. "It is not accidental that Kerry did not rule out support for Assad. Assad has a good army, so why not using it against the Islamic State?"

Experts speak highly of Russia’s policies in relation to the Syrian conflict.

"Russia has always supported the peace process, saying that Assad should be supported in his struggle against extremists and that the conflict has no military solution," Zvyagelskaya said. "Moscow last January arranged for an intra-Syrian dialogue between representatives of the Assad government and the opposition. It looks like the dialogue will be continued. Those were not separate negotiations. They were part of preparations for a Geneva-3 meeting."

"Moscow has chosen the correct mode of behavior. It contributed to Syria’s chemical disarmament by persuading Assad," Sotnikov said.

"Russia made the correct choice by supporting Assad and by coming out against military intervention by Western countries, but it might have conducted a more active policy, a senior research fellow at the Arab Studies Center of the RAS Academy of Oriental Studies, Boris Dolgov, told TASS. "In particular, it promoted the creation of a coalition of forces that are now fighting against the Islamic State — Kurdish paramilitaries, the Syrian army and the Shi’ite armed groups."

"Systematic support for Bashar Assad as a legitimate president has proved fully correct," quotes research fellow Gevorg Mirzayan, of the Institute of US and Canada Studies as saying. "At first Moscow was criticized for that and for being ‘on the wrong side of history’. With the passage of time it became pretty clear that this is not so. It has turned out that Russia’s choice was right, and the faith in the Opposition’s early victory, wrong."


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