Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saving A "United" Syria

"We as a nation ... are delivering a message that the Syrian state is determined to recover all regions from the terrorists and restore security, infrastructure."
"We come today here to replace the fake freedom they [Sunni Syrian citizens] tried to market at the beginning of the crisis ... with real freedom."
"Not the freedom that begins with them and is sustained by dollars ... and by some promises of positions [referring to the U.S. allying with rebels in support of a more representative regime]."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

"[Any effort structured to put a stop to the suffering of Syrians] is a step in the right direction and we will deal with it positively."
Syrian National Coalition statement

"[Concern over an enforcement process aside, the opposition commits to compliance with the truce] because it is incredibly important that aid reaches people and that there is a decrease in the numbers of people dying."
"Also, we are hoping this is the beginning of a political solution to conflict."
Yasir Ibrahim al-Yusuf, representative, Noureddine al-Zinki movement

Syrian men carrying babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings following a reported airstrike on the rebel-held Salihin neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo, September 12. (Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian President al-Assad's statement oozes sanctimony in speaking of terrorists and the restoration of security and infrastructure. For one thing, from the very start of the Syrian civil war when peaceful protests by Sunni Syrians asked only for equal treatment with the minority Alawite citizens whom Assad represents, he responded with brutality against protesters he characterized as 'scum' and 'terrorists'.

Unwilling to entertain the option of listening and extending equality to all Syrians, he chose instead to launch a searingly vicious war against his critics.

That, in and of itself, instantly transformed Syrian Sunnis from critics, and protesters, to participants in a conflict of survival, when civil war became a reality because Sunnis were forced to defend themselves and their neighbourhoods from the military assaults, arrests, incarceration and torture practised on civilians, including children who aroused suspicion in the mind of their dictator who would brook no criticism for his methods of governing the country.

Bashar al-Assad alone is responsible for the plight of Syrians, that over half of the pre-conflict population has had to flee their homes and of that number another half have become refugees in flight from their own government's malign intention to quell the public distaste for his tribal, sectarian divisions of practised inequality. As for restoration of the destroyed infrastructure, that too falls at the feet of a tyrant who chose to bomb his citizens rather than listen to their grievances.

This latest agreement reached between the United States and Russia acting as arbitrators between the rebel forces and the Syrian regime has raised hope in the minds of the rebel factions who prefer to negotiate with the man who has felt no compunction over using his people as targets for chemical gas attacks and barrel bomb shrapnel assaults, killing countless men, women and children. By last count, a number approaching a half-million have died in Syria in the past five years of conflict.

In his statements, Assad sounds typically belligerent, there is not an iota of conciliation in his tone or his intentions. The U.S. signed onto the agreement in the understanding that what will eventually result from negotiations is the departure of Bashar al-Assad from rule of the country. Assad interprets whatever was agreed upon in his own inimitable manner; with the considerable backing of Moscow and Tehran and Hezbollah, along with Shiite militias, he intends to rout all opposition and restore to himself the territory he once ruled.

As an immediate sign of his good will in accepting the ceasefire agreement, President Assad has sent more messages of responsible governance in the form of helicopter gunships releasing barrel bombs on an Aleppo neighbourhood even while loyalist forces have gone about shelling a route intended to be used for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered city.
"To clarify: the arrangement announced last week makes no provision whatsoever for the U.S. and Russia to approve strikes by the Syrian regime, and this is not something we could ever envision doing."
U.S. State Department

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