Belligerent parties in Syrian crisis are incapacitated
In an interview with Khabar Online, a senior analyst and researcher of the Middle Eastern issues Mohammed Ali Mohtadi described the origins of the current crisis in Syria. He believes that unlike what the West's media and Al Jazeera say the regime of Bashar al-Assad will not be toppled in near future.
How and why did the Syrian crisis begin?
Syrian crisis was rooted in people's demands and seeking freedom, however the spread of popular uprisings which began more than a year ago in the Arab world to Syria was not expected by many [including Iranian] analysts. As the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had stressed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, they generally believed that Syria would not be the scene of a new uprising in the fashion of the Arab Spring, since that country is an axis of resistance against Israel which had protected its regime from people’s rebellion.
Before Syria, all the popular uprisings in the Arab world were against the regimes whose foreign policies were in line with those of the United States in the region. Leaders of these countries including Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Ali Abdullah Saleh (Yemen) and Al Khalifa family (Bahrain) were taking actions in line with the American and Israeli tendencies in the Middle East.
However, the Syrian government made a strategic mistake in Dara’a and as the security forces tried arrogantly to crush the popular revolt, they actually stirred up the revolt which later turned into an armed struggle. In Dara’a, a type of tribal tradition is still practiced and the violent crack down of people there will rise their pride. As matter of fact, the damages made to the dignity of the tribes’ chiefs by the government caused people to suffer from humiliation and in a bid to restore their honor, they held tough protests.
Undoubtedly, at the beginning the Syrian uprising was a popular movement. It's undeniable that in the government of Bashar al-Assad, Syrian people endure some social and political pressures. Coming to power after his father, Bashar al-Assad made efforts to execute some reforms but in a way, the centers of power in Syria thwarted his plans.
Can one use the term “a total civil war” for the Syrian clashes or the country has not entered into such a phase of turmoil?
No, in the true sense of the word civil war occurs when people from different religious groups, or in the other words different parts of a nation begin to fight with one another. The rebellionof Dara’a was indeed used by several countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia which came to the scene, backed opposition groups and added fuel to the fire. In the meantime, the turmoil has been deeply influenced by foreign powers. At the moment we see Salafis, Takfiris and Al Qaeda in the front against the Syrian government. Moreover, paramilitary groups from different parts of the world from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan to even Chechen and Libya are joining the army of opposition groups in a fight against the Syrian regime.
On the other hand, the United States, the UK and France with their intelligence services above them MI6 of the UK which is aided by Mossad of Israel have been aligned with the Turkish intelligence service and are pushing the unrest in Syria toward ethnic clashes between Shiites and Sunnis. It should be noted that many Sunni-populated regions are against the Syrian turmoil.
Which party has the upper hand in the clashes?
It seems that the belligerent parties have become incapacitated. The Syrian army is trying to purge the opposition militant groups from the cities, but due to the constant support given by foreigners to these groups, the Syrian army's operation has become sluggish or has stopped. From one hand, the Syrian army and security forces say they are ready for a one-year street fight, and from the other, opposition forces are not able to defeat them entirely and take control of the country.
To what factions the opponents of the Syrian government are divided?
The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria founded by Mustafa al-Siba'I, an Al-Azhar graduate influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt in the late 1940s is the prime group within the Syrian National Council. It was in conflict with the secularist, pan-Arabist Ba'ath Party which came to power in Syria in 1970s as in 1982 they initiated an armed struggle with the Syrian regime. They took control of the city Hama but they were harshly defeated and were eliminated from the city by the forces of Hafez al-Assad. Actually, They were revived after the revolt of 2011 was ensued. S
The second group is comprised of some aged Syrian communists which play a very minor role in the opposition front.
The intellectuals seeking democracy, freedom of expression and compliance with human rights make up the third faction. They were not after the overthrow of the Syrian regime, they called for reform and putting an end to the governmental corruption. The Syrian government could hold negotiations with them and implement some reforms in the country. But those intellectuals were oppressed, exiled or detained.
The fourth faction headed by Haytham Manna is called the Syrian National Coordination Committee which is against any foreign political, military interference, armed struggle as well as ethnic and religious clash.
There are many differences between the above-mentioned factions, particularly secular and intellectual figures are not approved of the ideas belonging to the Muslim brotherhood and Salafis.
Would the new United Nations envoy on Syria, Akhzar Ebrahimi be able to accomplish the unfulfilled task of Kofi Annan?
By now he is not that much hopeful to achieve success. He speaks in a diplomatic manner without promising any success on resolving the dispute. His extent of accomplishment depends on the daily developments in Syria. At the moment, regarding the balance of power in Syria and the role played by regional and international forces in Syrian crisis, he has not a very good chance.