Forget Assad

Bente Scheller at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung:

7718153052_3aed043702_zIf you cannot overthrow the tyrant, co-operate with him – after four disastrous years in Syria this seems to be the conclusion the international community has arrived at. While back in 2011 Bashar al-Assad’s days appeared to be drawing to a close, a growing number of people are now suggesting to see him as part of the solution, as illustrated recently by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura in Vienna.

The more methodical and brutish Syria’s dictator disregards human rights, the more he seems to assume the role of a potentially reliable partner in the eyes of some. That is primarily due to the Islamist terror army ISIS. Albeit there are few atrocities with civilian victims the regime is not responsible of committing and although it commits these crimes to a much greater, deadlier extent – Assad is readily seen as the “lesser evil”.

The implication that the situation in Syria could be pacified through a co-operation with Assad in the battle against terrorism is as plain as it is ill-conceived when it comes to the actual implementation. The fight against ISIS requires three things: the means, the will and a strategy.

Assad’s regime is subject to international sanctions. However, it has been receiving vast amounts of financial and military support by Iran and Russia. How likely would Damascus’ current allies be to maintain this support if Assad was rehabilitated by the West? In view of the weak rouble and the economic consequences of the oil price decrease for Iran it would be of interest for both to scale down the liability caused by their involvement in Syria. Particularly the history of Russian-Syrian relations indicates furthermore that it was only of interest for Moscow to co-operate with Syria if this meant making a political statement against the West. A rehabilitation of Syria would come at an exorbitantly high price, politically as well as financially. How much is the West prepared to pay?

More here.