Syria on the way to civil war?

Syrian President now seems ready for the worst horrors in order to stay in charge. Next to the war that he delivers to the protesters, the president is also engaged in a terrible war of images in order to defend its action and clear itself from any involvement in the recent massacres and killings that bloody the country. If the war of image seems lost for President, the war on the ground is unfortunately far from being lost and the violence is increasing, while the international community and the Arab League appear powerless to stop it.

The regime uses his dastardly schemes to justify fierce repression, as suggested by Le Figaro and Libération who suspect the regime of being behind the bombing in Kfar Sousse on 23 December or the murder of French journalist Gilles Jacquier. The opposition, represented by the National Council and accused by the Syrian regime of being the cause of this, agrees with the French press.

While the massacres of the regime continue, a Syrian “free” army, composed mainly by deserters from the regular army, is taking shape, heralding the beginning of a civil war. Are the Arab League and international community realising that such a scenario could have serious consequences on all neighboring countries?

Despite this threat, their response is very timid. The plan to end the crisis proposed by the Arab League and accepted by the regime does not seem today able to resolve the crisis because the regime only simulates its application. The Mission of the League in Syria has failed and some of its observers are recognizing it at last and start denouncing the atrocities of Bashar al-Assad who has no intention of giving up or share power. A diplomatic solution to the crisis now seems very distant.

Economic sanctions and arms embargo imposed by the West will certainly do not bend the regime either. Indeed, economic sanctions have never toppled any regime and the arms embargo seems convoluted, as announced in the New York Times, by one of the allies of the regime, Russia. A scenario such as in Libya also seems excluded at present. If a resolution condemning violence is considered by the Security Council at this time, a resolution authorizing the use of force to protect the people would not be accepted by Russia or China.

Under these conditions, the specter of civil war is close to growing and with it a regional destabilization due to different sets of alliance, as the regime of Bashar al-Assad can still count on some regional allies such as Iran or Hezbollah, or Algeria or Iraq, while Turkey, the Gulf Western states are now against him.

Bashar al-Assad has sufficiently demonstrated that he was a dangerous man for its people and it was time for him and his clan to resign. The opposition, after so much death, will certainly not give up. The Arab League at first– and to a lesser extent the West – must use all possible means, such as recognition of the Syrian National Council as the only legitimate representative of Syria or the sending a peacekeeping force, to avoid bloodshed.

Geoffroy d’Aspremont