Sunday, September 4, 2011
By Walid M. Sadi
Six months or so into the Syrian uprising, there are two possible scenarios that can emerge: the total crushing of the “Intifada” or further escalation of the Syrian insurgency that could turn into an armed conflict.
The chances for the first scenario to succeed depend first and foremost on the continued support Russia extends to the Syrian government. Moscow is capable of blocking any resolution that would legitimise an armed intervention from outside Syria to support the opposition.
Moscow is expected to maintain its unconditional support for the Syrian regime for political reasons - it views Syria as a strategic ally in the Middle East.
Russia is on record as supporting reforms in Syria, but under no circumstances would it tolerate a change of regime. The Russian leadership is also concerned about the huge stockpile of sophisticated chemical weapons in Syria’s possession.
Damascus is reputed to hold one of the biggest stockpiles of these weapons of mass destruction in its arsenal.
Russia is afraid that these weapons may fall into the wrong hands if there is a regime change in the country. Accordingly, a dramatic change in Russia’s on Syria’s stances does not appear to be in the cards for as far as one can see.
The second scenario, projecting a rise of militancy among the opposition in Syria, cannot be ruled out altogether.
Nations of the world were unable to get a UN Security Council resolution condoning an armed intervention to stop the deadly crackdown on protesters and the rapid rise in violence on both sides. The situation in Syria may turn worse, with both sides increasing their reliance on violence to influence the course of events.
The inescapable conclusion is that the situation in Syria is still too fluid and volatile to make a sound guess as to where Syria could be heading.
The Baath Party that rules Syria is no novice when it comes to dealing with challenges, both from within and from without the country. Its continued dependence on arguments about sovereignty rights and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries may run out of ammunition in the face of contemporary jurisprudence, which says that sovereignty no longer exists in absolute terms but rather in relative terms.
When nations become members of the UN and state parties to international conventions, they automatically surrender some of the attributes of their sovereignty.
UN member states can now be monitored by international mechanisms by virtue of their ratification of international norms, and Syria is no exception.
It is still within the capability of Damascus to change the game by developing a clearer vision of where it wants to go. The destiny of Syria still lies in the hands of the ruling regime if it decides to behave in an enlightened manner.
This commentary was published in The Jordan Times on 04/09/2011