Is Partition a Solution for Syria?

The Indian subcontinent is about 5.000 kilometers away from the cockpit of the Middle East’s latest upheaval, but analysts would do well to examine subcontinent’s recent history to gain insight into Syria’s intractable conflict. At its root, the Syrian imbroglio is a sectarian one, produced by a mix of age-old conflict between Sunnis and Shias, and old imperialist policy of divide-and-rule. 1947 partitioning of the British India into India and Pakistan eased violence dramatically. And so Syria, too, could be on the way to a solution by partition. Taking into account the intensity of violence, the level of the armed opposition’s organization and the duration of fighting, the International Committee of Red Cross ruled on 15 July that a civil war is raging in Syria. Of the 23 million Syrians, 3 million are Alawites, a sub-sect within Shia Islam, with Sunnis being 16 million strong. The partition of British India was accompanied by roughly 1.5 million deaths and transfer of some 12 million people across newly demarcated international border. Whereas longest conventional war in the past century between Iraq and Iran lasted nearly eight years, the civil war in Lebanon dragged on for more than 15 years. Unlike conventional armed conflicts between sovereign states, civil wars do not always end formally with a document cosigned by the warring parties. Several scenarios for Syria fall into 2 categories: clear-cut and protracted. Most optimistic and least violent one has Syrian Bashar al-Assad voluntarily relinquishing power in favor of a transitional authority headed by his deputy, following example of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh last December, until fresh elections are held. This proposal has the backing of United States, Britain, France, and would satisfy the Syrian opposition who refuse to deal with Assad under any circumstances. Another clear-cut scenario would entail regular Syrian military defeated by opposition Free Syrian Army, or FSA. In theory, the FSA can achieve this by “controlled demolition” of the Assad regime, stripping it of one powerful layer after another, until it’s left with the exclusively Alawi militia nicknamed Shabiha or ghosts. In practice, such a process rarely goes according to plan, particularly when more than 100 rebel formations, lacking a central command and control, are fighting the government. Such a multifarious coalition of anti-Assad groups, united only by their hatred of Alawite-dominated regime, probably could not cope with the aftermath of the collapse of the centralized Baathist state. Even the US Pentagon, with its vast resources, backed actively by the anti–Saddam Hussein opposition, struggled to tackle chaos that befell Iraq after the 2003 invasion. The post-Assad period could witness ethnic cleansing of Alawites and their close allies, Christians, and clashes among various anti-Assad armed militias for supremacy, with Al Qaeda-affiliated groups finding a rich ground to flourish as they did in the post–Saddam Hussein Iraq. A protracted scenario is more likely (…..) There are overarching parallels between British Raj in India and French Mandate in Syria. In both cases, imperial power promoted the minority, Muslims and Alawites, to counteract nationalist movement led by majority, Hindus and Sunnis. In the end, Britain conceded a homeland for Indian Muslims. In Syria, a viable solution lies in partition.



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to Is Partition a Solution for Syria?

  1. By appointing Prince Bandar bin Sultan as its new intelligence chief, Saudi Arabia has installed what looks like a war cabinet at a time of rising tensions with Iran and growing internal dissent from its Shiite minority. The Saudis have also heightened their alert level in other ways to prepare for possible regional conflict. Some Saudi military and security personnel were mobilized last month — called back from summer leave or told to cancel planned vacations. One explanation of the mobilization making the rounds in Riyadh is that the Saudis expected that Turkey might retaliate against Syria for the shoot-down of one of its fighters in late June. The installation of a new intelligence chief came as Saudi Arabia was stepping up its support for insurgents in Syria seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In this covert effort, the Saudis are working with the United States, France, Turkey, Jordan and other nations that want Assad out (…..) At home, the Saudis have been struggling to contain Shiite protests in Al-Qatif, in the kingdom’s oil-rich eastern province. Those protests, which the Saudis believe are Iran-inspired, led to two deaths in early July, according to a July 9 BBC report. The demonstrations continued last week and there were reports of more casualties. The Saudis haven’t been able to stop the insurgency in Al-Qatif; indeed, it appears to be worsening. The protesters may hope to provoke the Saudis into a bloody crackdown, which would leave scores dead and encourage much wider demonstrations and international outcry. So far, the Saudis have avoided such an escalation through relatively restrained tactics. Saudi reformers argue that the best way to quell Shiite protests is to give them the full economic and political rights of citizenship. Iran’s Press TV on July 27 featured an interview with an analyst headlined: “Collapse of al-Saud regime becomes more realistic than before.” The information may have been Tehran’s propaganda, but it helps explain why the Saudi monarchy is going to battle stations.


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