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The end of the Syrian war requires an intellectual breakthrough

The end of the Syrian war requires an intellectual breakthrough

04.12.2017
Tags: Syria, War in the Middle East, Politics, Analytics

What will be the post-war arrangement of Syria? Russia has to find the answer to this question, since the Syrians themselves openly ignore them, and the West is still trying to do everything in its own way, regardless of the real state of affairs at the front. As a consequence, an important project for the whole world depends almost entirely on "Russian thought".

After a series of negotiations in Sochi, the emphasis in the Syrian settlement is on the creation of the constitutional foundations of the post-war state structure. To coordinate them, the future Congress of the Peoples of Syria is planned, which was originally appointed for November 18, but was subsequently postponed. The case turned out to be more complicated than the one conceived: one has to inspire the Syrian opposition with the idea of ​​having to deal with constitutional principles, rather than with momentary formalities. Despite the objective military victory of Damascus, the slogan "Assad must go away" still exists.

However, this is the easiest of the problems that have to be solved.

Discussions mainly revolve around two drafts of the constitution developed in Moscow. The countries - guarantors of armistice and equated to them come to do for the opposition the work that professional fighters with the regime of Bashar Assad could not do in five years, namely - to unite them.

For the civil war in Syria, in principle, there is a huge amount of verbal tinsel, in the first place - loud statements about the unification or renaming of certain armed groups. As a result - a huge number of participants in various conferences in Astana, Geneva, Riyadh, Qatar. Some have to be put to the negotiating table by kicks and slaps with the "Caliber", and some can not be invited, based on the oriental principles of respect, although there is no practical sense in their presence. The number of conference participants from 500 to 1000 people is already a familiar figure, and the protocol staff from the amount of work are turning gray just before our eyes. And sometimes I really want to ask - who are all these people in general?

Celebration of disobedience

Opposition groups often do not trust each other than Damascus or Moscow. Sometimes - they express distrust of the one or the site where they "have not been given due respect". So, at the conference that is being held right now in the capital of Saudi Arabia, which was designated as "Riyadh-2", there are no Syrian oppositionists who previously participated in "Riyadh-1", because they considered the event to be a formality and headed for Sochi (and still - only the heads of delegations scored 150 people).

At the same time, the participants of "Riyadh-1" agreed with the resolution adopted in Astana, which some armed groups rejected "out of principle" - frightened that Moscow would replace the Geneva process by the Astana process. And the formal head of the opposition, the "unified negotiator" in Geneva, and the former Prime Minister of Syria Riyadh Hijab, insisted, for personal reasons, on "Bashar must leave", and continues to do so, which triggered a sharp reaction from Sergei Lavrov. For their part, the Saudis are making titanic efforts to dislodge Hajib from the "chief negotiator" position, which he once took because he was the most senior refugee from Damascus. But he was never an oppositionist, on the contrary, he was one of the most convinced supporters of Assad. It is still not clear what he managed to do in two months of premiership, that Bashar fired him.

Thus, it is more difficult to formulate oppositional groups into something more or less united, than to physically separate them one by one. And the task is not so much even diplomatic as organizational, but to the transition to peaceful construction in Syria, it by and large has only an indirect relationship. Now not only the oppositionists themselves, but also many commentators are seriously involved in the "formation of coalitions" and virtual "respect", which is fascinating in terms of arranging conferences, but it makes no sense in determining the real future of the country.

It's all about principles, but they are not complicated. Syria remains united within the internationally recognized borders. At the same time, its new state model should take into account the results of the war and, if possible, eliminate its underlying causes. This is not such an impossible task, if you do not work in the mode of a shepherd dog collie, driving one stubborn oppositionist and "giving them respect," and identify the very reasons that led to the war.

Surprisingly, those opposition groups that have some real support "on the ground" are much more productive in terms of negotiations than purely emigrant groups. At least, they are ready to hold elections and do not expose obviously impossible conditions such as "Bashar must leave". Of course, there are also complications here, for example, some want a piece of power right now - for some "transition period", as if they forgot that the war was won by Assad, that the two are not 2014, and that it is to respect the victorious side.

Apparently, the changes on the front are poorly seen from Abu Dhabi or Paris. Before some, it is gradually coming, but many still live in the world of pink unicorns that eat dandelions, which arose in their head as a result of unrestrained funding and "moral support" from the United States and Saudi Arabia in the last five years.

According to the Lebanese model

With the internationally recognized borders of Syria, everything seems to be unambiguous. This issue is not so much an intra-Syrian issue as for the guarantor countries and neighbors. The problem is in Idlib, for which Turkey should answer in theory.

Ankara is not going to annex anything, for which she is thankful to everyone. She needs guarantees of borders on the Kurdish direction, which in principle is achievable. But Damascus is really concerned about the presence of foreign troops on the territory of the country, first of all, it is not clear what is doing there the American contingent.

The evacuation of Americans and small groups of foreign special forces (for example, Italian, which undertook to guarantee the interests of Italian capital on the cascade of dams on the Euphrates) is not a matter of negotiations, but a matter of prestige. They must go quietly, do not have to force Trump to make humiliating statements, it's not easy for him. It is another matter that the main principle of American foreign policy for half a century has been "linking the hedgehog with the snake". Like, we will do this, but in return you will do it in a completely different area of ​​life.

Now, Americans are linking their military presence in Syria with the presence in Syria of Iran and Hezbollah, and clearly from the submission of Israel. This is also a solvable question, the main thing is not to produce conspiracy theories "about the Shiite corridor from Tehran to Haifa."

Then begins the most time-consuming and interesting. In theory, in the new Syrian state, the interests of all religious, ethnic and tribal groups must be taken into account, with the exception of discredited jihadists and some particularly militant tribes. Previously, this resulted in the experts '(mostly Russian) experts' poring over the millimeter maps, which is also part of the work, but tactical. And in terms of strategy, the main principle has not yet been clarified.

The "Lebanese version" was suggested - the constitutional consolidation of state positions on the religious principle. Type: head of state - Alawite, Prime - Sunni, head of Parliament - Christian or Shiite and so on. At the same time, the parliament is bicameral: the lower one is elected according to universal suffrage, the upper one - according to religious-national quotas. Separate line is self-management for some small but significant communities (for example, Armenians and Druze) and Kurdistan's autonomy.

If one understands the mountain logic of thinking, it is easier to negotiate with the Kurds than with many others. They do not claim to go beyond their ethnic range, despite the fact that after the capture of Rakka, some Kurdish refugees began to migrate there and the Kurdish language in the ruins of the city is now heard even more often than the Arab one. Also publicly announced plans for fixing the Kurds east coast of the Euphrates. But all this is more propaganda than real plans: Kurds are traded, they do so always everywhere. But even with the help of the Americans, even despite the seizure of the Omar oilfield near Deir ez Zor, they could not grab more territory than they can digest.

At the same time, the experience of recent events in Iraq showed that for a part of the oil revenues "right now" the Kurds are ready to give up even the results of the referendum on independence, which are advantageously different from those for whom independence is more expensive than money. What is more important in such behavior - momentary greed or strategic calculation, is of course important, but this logic can be understood and forgiven. The main thing is to remember that Bashar Assad returned them civil rights (his father Hafez denied the Kurds even in Syrian citizenship), but further concessions are possible for Damascus only on a limited scale.

Rethinking democracy

The Lebanese model has a significant drawback - it does not save even Lebanon itself from periodic conflicts and power struggles. Once it seemed almost a universal method of appeasement of countries with a complex national and religious composition. But since the 60-ies of the last century the world has become more complicated, and the simple fixation of the presence of national and religious groups on a permanent position in power is no longer considered a solution.

A simple example: during the USSR of the pre-Gorbachev era in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous District, the first secretary was always Russian, the head of the Supreme Council was a Chechen, the prime minister was an Ingush. And who saved it?

In Syria trench fights for this or that position have already begun. In particular, the fixation of the presidential post for the Alawites contradicts not only the principle "Bashar must go away," but also the principle of democracy - elections on general grounds. At the same time, the turnover of power no longer works - the Alawites will easily develop a system in which the rotation of specific personalities will not be reflected in their positions in the society.

In addition, it will be necessary to introduce quotas in the army and the police, which is unrealistic by the results of the war. This is not India, where some ethnic and religious groups in the army simply do not serve (for example, non-meat-eating Buddhists can not even play football - what kind of service is there), and the officer corps at 70% consists of Sikhs, for whom war - mother dear.

In the modern Syrian army, the ethnic balance was skewed by the results of the division in the course of the war, and the separately taken Sunni units must be forcedly diluted by Alawite and Shiite officers, so as not to run away. The same situation is in the police and in the muhabarrat, not to mention the national guard and local militias.

But the Alawito Shiite domination is not the result that the Americans and the Gulf countries hope to get, despite the obvious results of the war. To spit on their opinion is possible, but then the process of forming a new Syria will drag on for years and can bring the situation to a new explosion.

I do not want to translate the rails themselves into the usual for Western democracy oppositionists themselves. The military defeat did not leave them a chance at the elections, even if hundreds of observers from the United States and the EU launch into the country, who know their business - any sneeze will certainly be regarded as a "violation of democratic procedures." At the level of local self-government this problem is solved more simply - there are practically no multiethnic villages, and in some places whole mono-ethnic or mono-ethnic enclaves that were not previously formed. In the case of central authority and the delegation of authority of local structures, Damascus is much more complicated.

At the same time, there is no desire to turn central authority into a fictitious Bosnian model. Over time, this will automatically lead to the collapse of the country or a new large-scale outbreak of violence.

The Power of Russian Thought

It's sad, but the Syrians themselves (like Damascus and the oppositionists) are practically not engaged in all this laborious work. The development of constitutional principles as if by itself, naturally "hung" in Moscow. The rest just sit and wait - or loudly insist on something of their own type "Bashar to get away" or "democracy for all". But patience in this regard is not unlimited.

Most opposition groups do not know what diplomacy is, or spoil it with a purely Eastern understanding of compromise. In such an environment, it may be correct that constitutional principles are brought into the process from the outside. But there is still no unity on the key principles of the future organization of Syria, impossible and substantive negotiations on its details.

Meanwhile, Western partners openly lament the lack of any initiative on the part of the broad masses of the opposition. Like, why do not they create their own congress at least from 100-150 groups without reliance on any state to, as they say in London, "restore the main goals of the revolution", that is, the overthrow of the ruling regime (there is still called the revolution )? In reality, the opposition has long forgotten about the "revolution", concentrating on formalities, "respect" and obtaining tactical preferences. But in the West they insistently insist that the basis of negotiations should be "the opportunity to restore their rights, freedom, dignity and create a state of equal citizens and democratic freedoms on the basis of institutions." That is, first the chairs, and then the money, regardless of the outcome of the hostilities. "Bashar must leave" regardless of the outcome of the war. So the constitutional principles will not work out.

In this regard, the result of the talks in Sochi caused almost sacred resentment. Who are all these people who left the conference in Riyadh and made a choice in favor of Sochi, Americans, Europeans and some Arabs from among the ideological Arab opponents of Damascus are asking. Who, they say, are these "compromisers" who "solve their tactical questions", "forgetting about the revolution"? The reason for this resentment is a clear understanding that several other conferences in Riyadh will not solve anything, but after Sochi the world will not be the same.

It remains to wait for an intellectual breakthrough. And not from conferences and congresses that are good as a tool of the "shepherd's dog", but from experts who already have a brain melting away from trying to come up with a new constitution of Syria and draw boundaries of new municipalities.

The hard work is to drag a country out of the swamp into which other people have driven it.

Eugene Kroutikov
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