Syria cannot have peace with Assad still in power
A nation has been held hostage for too long, by a family who have enriched themselves and suppressed all opposition. This is a regime which specializes in moving to violence as a first resort. Syria is a prison which has endured much dissatisfaction from the population over many years; Hama in 1982, Damascus in 2001, and ultimately the protests in 2011 which the Syrian regime could no longer contain. The Syrian people who peacefully protested did so for the dream of a state where the rule of law meant something, for a united Syria where everyone had a stake, and for a peaceful transition of power. It was an outpouring from a well which had been suppressed for far too long.
Those who claim that Assad is the buckle of the strap that keeps Syria together ignores what the Syrian people want, it also ignores Assad’s own words who claims the civil war has left Syria with a ‘healthier and more homogeneous society’. This healthier and more homogeneous society is symptomatic of a regime which has maintained its power through bribery, brute force, and the bastardization of the ‘Nation-State’. The Assad regime has been reliant upon small sections of the population in order to retain power, not just Alawites but a ‘coalition of minorities’ which before the civil war accounted for 25% of the populace. Alongside this, a small clique of Sunni’s were also part of the ruling class which has ruled the country for 47 years.
In order to retain power the regime has stopped at nothing; it has released thousands of Islamist radicals from jail in order to paint the opposition as extremist thugs. It has as Johnathon Littell has described in his ‘Syrian Notebooks’ bombed hospitals used by the opposition, alongside this show of brutal force, the regime has stepped up its already evil prison system with systematic torture and murder. Finally, and the cherry on top of the cake, the Assad regime have repeatedly gassed its own citizens with chlorine and Sarin repeatedly being used, even after Russia ‘removing’ chemical weapons from the country.
The Syrian government have no thought for the people who are trapped within their state. Many people have claimed the Syrian state must maintain sovereignty, thus whether we like it or not this means we must tolerate the Assad regime. However, this misunderstands what is left of the Syrian regime, Assad is no more in power than the opposition apart from the fact he is propped up by the Russian and Iranian regimes. He has become a puppet of two regimes which should horrify us, and as one of these regimes sits on the United Nation’s Security Council, appealing as Corbyn does to international co-operation is fruitless. The West’s dithering as Assad gassed his own citizens will be remembered not just as a missed opportunity, but as a haunting moment when the West abandoned fellow democrats, as the cost to support them was deemed too high by the anti war mob which had gripped public opinion following Iraq.
The peace talks which have again been called for in Syria, already look like they are falling apart. The regime are refusing to step down, and the opposition, depleted following a long conflict which was not of their making are running out of options. Peace is described as living without violence, and as long as the Assad regime remains in place, peace cannot take place within Syria.