Connect with us

Middle East

Al-Assad Regime: Initiation of Syrian Uprising

Avatar photo



Background And Causes of Uprising

Syrian civil war‎ is a multi-sided and multi-faceted war which is currently taking place in Syria. The war initiated on March 15, 2011 between Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad and Syrian Arab Republic. This unrest in Syria grew out of peaceful protests against injustice and failures of Bashar-al-Assad in Syria. The demand of these protests was removal of Al Assad. Syrian Army lead by Al Assad attacked dissenters and this conflict surged into an armed conflict i.e. The Syrian Civil War. This war was fought between Syrian Armed forces and free Syrian army (international allies).

Environmental crisis played a bit part in Syrian uprising. Syria from 2006-2010 was hit by a pernicious drought. Farming of the country was destroyed and thousands of families were raised to indigence. It lead to mass migration of families to urban areas.

The Dar’a province of western Syria was highly affected by calamity. First protest took place on March 15, 2011 and a few boys were arrested and maltreated resultantly. People came out on streets for corroboration of political and economical reforms. Security forces unleashed attacks on peaceful dissenters which prefixed thrust to the protests.

As the protests grew in size and mass, more force was used against them even tanks were used. Till the mid of 2011, major world powers diverged into pro-Assad and anti-Assad sets.

Fifty years of Assadist Rule

Hafez-al-Assad was a Syrian politician who remained Prime minister of Syria from 1970-71 and President from 1971-2000. During his thirty years of dictatorship he made sure his son gets a loyal army. Syria, before his era went through 16 devastating coupes out of which 9 were successful. None of the attempt was made to abolish Hafez-al-Assad because of the reason that army was loyal to him. He used Syrian economy to cultivate loyalty for himself. He was the product of military and made sure to the institution remain secular and staunch at the other hand. He made army not only devoted but well equipped to safeguard Assad government in any case. Hafez-al-Assad died in 2000, then came his son. Further, he introduced free market policies.

During the first decade of his rule there was breakdown of economic policies. Free market policies introduced by Hafez-al-Assad soared when Bashar-al-Assad became president. These policies benefited a very few of the population. Unemployment was at peak. This discontent between people and government became the purpose of war.

Syria was hit by a drought from 2006-2011 which deteriorated the economic conditions. Prices of food soared to sky. Human rights were already been slumped there. There was no freedom of expression, freedom of speech even freedom to gather. Only 5 people were allowed to gather at a time. A human rights report which came soon before the uprising stated that the President crashed at dispensing basic human rights.

Involvement of Foreign Forces

The war was mainly fought between Syrian Armed Forces lead by Bashar-al-Assad and Free Syrian army which mainly constituted of civilians. Syrian Democratic forces dominated by Kurds, ISIS.Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran, Russia were the supporters of Syrian government while the rebel groups were supported by U.S, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain and Netherlands.

United States and Syria

The American-led intercession in the Syrian Civil War refers to the American-led sustenance of Syrian rebels and the  Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during the  Syrian Civil War. An active military operation was lead by US known as “Operation Inherent Resolve” which was against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in 2014. US and its allies marked out Syrian government through airstrikes and aircraft shot downs. After the break out of civil war in 2011, US supplied non lethal aid to Syrian rebels and SDF. Later on it began to dispense drilling, money and intelligence to some Syrian Rebel commanders.

Two programs “Pentagon” and “Timber sycamore” were initiated by America, actually by CIA but were exterminated by Russian air bombings and were, later on, cancelled by Trump administration. During Obama administration in 2014, began to scrutinize ISIL locales in Syria.

The United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began bombing ISIL positions within Syria. The US missile assault on Shayrat Airbase on 7 April 2017 was the first time the US intentionally strafed Syrian government soldiers, and it indicated the beginning of America’s direct military intervention. In order to offset Iran’s influence and depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, In 2018, the Trump administration demonstrated its willingness to continue an unfettered presence in Syria. Anyhow, the Trump Administration has authorized the withdrawal of 2000 troops from Syria in 2019.

US Airstrikes

On September 10, 2014, US President Barack Obama declared his intention to attack ISIL facilities in Syria and convened a conference to authorize a programme to train rebels fighting ISIL and Bashar-al-Assad’s army. He authorized attacks in Syria that were opposed by militant organizations. In his address, he stated that we would wipe out whatever group remains in Syria by direct strikes.

Prior to the launch of airstrikes, the US informed Iran, Syria’s regional partner, of the assaults and made certain that no government facilities were targeted. On February 25, 2021, US military airstrikes led by US President Joe Biden shattered a number of potentials associated to pro-Iranian militias.

Turkish Involvement

Initially Turkish intervention in the Syrian civil war commenced diplomatically and later on surged militarily. Turkey convicted Syrian government at the beginning of outbreak of war and joined many other states in demanding abolition of Bashar-al-Assad. It energetically supported Syrian dissidents. Turkish connivance gradually transformed into military boost for free Syrian Army. In 2012 Turkish boost was just involved in border clashes but from 2017-2020 direct military interventions were witnessed. At many fronts Turkey was observed going against ISIS. Through its military operations since 2016, Turkey has occupied northern Syria. Turkey hosted the head of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad-al-Assad. Turkey grew belligerent  to the policies set up by Al-Assad government. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned his desire to “cultivate a favorable relationship with whatever government would take the place of Assad.”

Russian Involvement

Russia and Syria have vast history of ties. Syria was supporter of Soviet Union. in October 1980, Syria and the Soviet Union signed a twenty-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. Russia remained a firm supporter of Al-Assad government since actuation of Syrian uprising. It provided political and military reinforcement to Syria since 2011. Russia was also involved in direct military interventions. It vetoed western drafts against Syrian government and demand of confiscating the President, being a permanent member of UN security council. In September, 2015 the upper house of Russian Parliament permitted Russia to use force and arms in Syria against dissidents, SDF and free Syrian Army. After that, Russia commenced airstrikes on locales of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in Syria. Russian airstrikes became a source of continuous debate after being highlighted for ostensibly destroying hospitals and medical centers and killing of thousands of innocent civilians. Because of the specified reasons, Russia lost its seat  at UN Human Rights council in 2016.

Many Russian soldiers lost life during the course of their deployment in Syria. According to Russian officials “ current situation in Syria does no harm to international Peace and security”.

Russia has enhanced its military occupancy in Syria and launched first airstrike on 30th September 2015. Russian airstrikes have not been yet managed. In March 2021, Turkey urged Russia to hold on its airstrikes since these strikes are becoming a source of destruction of hospitals and fuel stations.

Iran and Saudi Arabia; The Shadow War

On the battle grounds of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been visualized fighting a proxy war which is also reffred as middle eastern cold war. Iran backs Syrian government and Bashar-Al-Assad while this has lead Saudi Arabia to boost Syrian rebels against the government.

This conflict has been influenced by the pursuit of regional hegemony. US supports Saudi Arabia while

Iran gains massive assistance from Russia and allies. The proxy war can be routed back to 1979, the time of “Iranian Revolution”. It was the time when USsubsidized the monarchic  Imperial state of Iran which became Islamic republic after revolution. The revolutionaries demanded to overthrow monarchy and practice the essence of republic.

1978 incident in Mecca, was a clash between Shia pilgrims and  Saudi security forces during the cadence of pilgrimage. It was a lethal eventuality which lead to expiration of four hundred folks. The ongoing proxy war developed on account of past happenings. Both the countries evacuate no possibility to grab each other’s influence in the region and they unleash no occasion to incapacitate one’s interests.

Violent Non-State Actors

Non-state actors having roots from armed and other militias have taken place in order to fill the vacancy left by incompetent regime. Sunni Salafi jihadist groups, Islamic State and the Nusra Front have proven to be the most effective rivals of the regime. They have occupied most of the Syrian territory. Thousands of jihadists from Afghanistan, Hezbollah jihadists came to Syria in support of Bashar-al-Assad. Nevertheless, Syrian regime has survived in hands of Al-Assad but Syria has been destroyed in hands of foreign forces and jihadist groups.

Syrian Peace Process

Syrian peace process is a initiative which embraces the events fabricated to resolve the conflict, which has been on going in Syria since March 2011 and has reached outside the territorial borders involving major world powers. The attempts of International community to bring forth peace between government and rebels, have failed. The moderators of peace process are Arab League, western powers, UN special envoy on the case of Syria and Russia. In 2014 “Geneva conference” took place which was assembled by UN envoy. The United States, the European Union, Russia, China, and numerous regional entities such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and, for the first time, Iran took part in the “Vienna talks” in 2015. There have been long and long talks since then to resolve the issue but no apparent actions were made to enforce peace in the region. However, elections are going to be held in May, 2021.

Impacts of War on Syria

As per the calculations of 2020  at least 400,000 Syrians have lost their right to survival, and 5.6 million refugees out of a pre-war population of 22 million were supersede from Syria. Syria has lost more than 50% of its military force. The United Nations, in the first instance described the Syrian conflict as the “worst man-made disaster the world has caught sight of since World War”, phrases can no longer delineate the crisis Syria has faced. Syrian uprising lead to widespread consequence, mass moving of refugees and slaughter of mankind. Even many countries were not willing to accept them. France accommodated a very large number of Syrian refugees. Health care facilities have been destroyed, people have lost access to treatments of diseases. And now this pandemic has hit the country and there is no sign of removal of al-Assads government.


From peaceful protests to civil war, Syria has become a battleground for different countries of the world. US shows support against Bashar-al-Assad while Iran displays affection with Bashar-al-Assad along with Russia while Turkey and Saudi

Arabia stand in opposition. Many foreign agents have been visualized in Syria fighting against their own specific targets. But one thing that I have noticed is that ISIL or ISIS has remained the target of every country seated in Syria. Saudi and Iran are fighting their proxy war in Syria as well as in Yemen.

According to UN Syrian uprising is the biggest conflict world has witnessed after world war 2. Wars are never favorable, outcomes of war are never joyous. Young children have lost their national identity, they were not supposed to see what they saw all because of Al-Assads arrogance. World has never seen such an impotent leader before who has failed, failed inadequately to fulfil needs of the people. He broke down at providing youth with a convalescent future.

Continue Reading

Middle East

Making Sense of Iran’s De-escalation with Saudi Arabia

Avatar photo



Soldiers drive at speed past two women begging in Lahj, Yemen. © UNOCHA/Giles Clarke

On March 10, 2023, Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement to resume diplomatic ties which had been severed for the last seven years triggered by the killing of a prominent Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the latter. The agreement has been gaining special attention all over the world since two powers competing to gain strategic dominance in West Asia have agreed to come to terms, and even more so because of the agreement being brokered by a third country China which has gotten a step closer to deepening its presence in the region. However, this article intends to narrowly focus on the plausible reasons that led the Iranian regime to agree to reach this agreement.    

Cementing Severed Diplomatic Ties 

Following the visit of President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi to Beijing, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani visited Beijing on March 6, 2023, and had four days of intense discussions with his counterpart Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser Musaid Al Aiban to settle issues between their countries. This agreement, though as unusual an event it may be, is not very surprising after all. In his first speech after winning the elections, the incumbent President of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, stated that he is willing to restart diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and improve trade with neighbours under the policy of ‘Neighbourliness’.

However, it is not unusual in Iranian politics to say one something about its foreign policy approach without been meaning to do it. Moreover, the first round of talks started back in Hassan Rouhani’s term. Therefore, it would be unwise to give more credit than necessary to President Raisi’s policy of ‘Neighbourliness’. It is also important to notice that before Beijing came into the picture, Oman and Iraq were mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia and they had had five round of talks in Baghdad from 2021 to 2022 with no concrete result. The fast-changing regional dynamics and Iran’s internal situation have arguably played a key role in instrumentalising the agreement in March 2023.   

Countering Regional Grouping

Given the fact that it is running proxy wars and supporting rebel groups in the region, Iran does not have many trusted allies in the region. There is an extent to which it can have sour relations with countries particularly in the neighbourhood since it may give rise to a regional grouping of countries against Iran. Post the signing of Abraham Accord, countries like Bahrain and UAE have already begun the process of normalising relations with Israel. Furthermore, backchannel talks have already been going between Saudi Arabia and Israel facilitated by the USA. Therefore, de-escalation with Saudi Arabia was in favour of Iran in the present especially because it would help undercut Israel’s efforts to isolate Iran in the region. In the light of these developments, Iran’s willingness to ease its years long rivalry with Saudi Arabia can also be seen as a policy of strategic hedging where Iran prepares for the worst by balancing Saudi Arabia by maintaining a strong military presence in the region but does not close itself from gaining whatever it can through constructive engagement.

Countering Internal Distress

Post the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in September 2022 in the custody of the Morality Police (Gasht-e Irshad), the anti-hijab protests raised some serious concerns for the regime. Although the protests have waned in recent weeks due to the brutal crackdown by the clerical regime, but even they have entirely died down. However, the protests that erupted were against the draconian hijab law but were not limited to it. They were also in response to rising inflation, high unemployment, corruption, lack of opportunities due to country’s isolation among others.

The anti-hijab protest draws inspiration from a series of protests which have marked the history of the clerical regime. Many Iranians, particularly the younger population, have been raising their voice against the use of country’s wealth to fund proxy wars in the region rather than using it for their own welfare. The slogan “Neither for Gaza nor for Lebanon; my soul is sacrificed for Iran” can be heard in every protest since the Green Movement of 2009. The ruling dispensation had not witnessed such a big protest since 2009. This may have brought to light the deep-seated unsatisfaction among the population which cannot go unaddressed for long. But to alleviate the economic hardships of its citizens, the government must have money in its disposal to fix the economy and to generate employment.

Saudi Arabia: A Potential Investor

Keeping in mind the sanctions put in place by the USA, the Iranian regime has been having a hard time getting investment into the country. If this agreement works out, the Iranians will be able to reduce their expenditure that they have been bearing for years for fighting proxy wars in the region. The Saudis are supporting the Yemeni government recognised by the United Nations whereas the Iranians are backing the Houthi rebels. By coming to an agreement with the Saudis about the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Iranians can save a lot of money and resources which can be diverted to strengthen their internal situation in the country. Moreover, Iran may also have a potential investor on their table.

Under the crown Prince Mohammad bin-Salman, the diversification project, revolving around the aspirational document ‘Vision 2030’ has gained a momentum in order to decrease their reliance on oil as a means of state revenue. Therefore, the Saudis are looking forward for different ventures to invest. Given the low wage labour cost due to US sanctions, Iran could be a favourable investing site for the Saudis. In light of recent discovery of large reserves of lithium in Iran, 10 percent of the world’s total, rapprochement with Saudi may help in securing foreign investment and technology since energy and infrastructure costs are high for Iran to do it on its own and due to sanctions, Iran is unlikely to get big investors other than China and Russia. However, trade and tanks seldom go together. For getting Saudi Arabia to invest in Iran, de-escalation had to happen before in Yemen.


Through this agreement, the Iranian regime aims to strengthen its regional security through engaging with a strong neighbour to prevent a regional grouping against itself. Moreover, the regime is also trying to win the confidence of its aggrieved citizens by showcasing itself as responsible and pragmatic. The official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that the agreement shows “determination of Iranian government to protect the interest of the Iranian people and Muslim, friendly and neighbouring countries” which was hailed by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the government backed news channel in Iran. Some other conservative media outlets focused more on how this agreement signals the defeat of USA and Israel. As much as the Iranian regime may hail it in the media, one must be cautious while overestimating the outcomes of the agreement. Through supporting Houthis in Yemen, Iran has been able to build significant influence in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula and it looks uncertain if it would abandon it. The agreement may reduce tension in the region; however, it is unlikely to settle profound differences between them in the foreseeable future.           

Continue Reading

Middle East

Iran-Saudi Deal: Prospects for the Region

Avatar photo



Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months, according to both Iranian and Saudi state media. This marks a significant development as tensions between the two regional rivals had been high for years, with Riyadh breaking off ties with Tehran in 2016 after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran following the execution of a prominent Shia Muslim scholar. Despite supporting rival sides in several conflict zones across the Middle East, including in Yemen, where the Houthi rebels are backed by Tehran and Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government, both sides have recently sought to improve ties.

The joint statement from Saudi Arabia and Iran also said the two countries had agreed to respect state sovereignty and not interfere in each other’s internal affairs, and to activate a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001. The announcement came on the day President Xi Jinping clinched a third term as China’s president amid a host of challenges. The presence of Beijing’s most senior diplomat, Wang Yi, at the talks signalled China’s interest in bolstering stability and peace in the region, as well as its own legitimacy.

The agreement has been welcomed in Iran, where senior officials have praised it as a step towards reducing tensions and bolstering regional security. However, some conservative media outlets have focused on how the deal signals a “defeat” for the United States and Israel. The US has cautiously welcomed the move, saying that it supports any efforts to help end the war in Yemen and de-escalate tensions in the Middle East region. Iraq and Oman, who had previously helped mediate the talks, greeted the rapprochement with optimism.

Improved relations between Tehran and Riyadh could have an effect on politics across the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon and Syria, where the two countries are on rival sides. This deal could lead to the creation of a better security situation in the region, and political analysts note that reducing tensions in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq can still entail wide-ranging interests for both sides. However, achieving success will require both countries to begin continuous and long-term efforts to try reliable ways that would guarantee mutual interests. While the development of re-establishing diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is considered a significant one for the region, it is important to note that ending the eight-year war in Yemen is still considered by some to be the most important eventual outcome of the agreement.

This will be a difficult goal to achieve, given the high level of distrust and the intensity of geopolitical rivalries, which may render the trend of reducing tensions reversible. Conservative economic dealings with Iran are expected from Saudi Arabia, as it does not want to be exposed to US sanctions, and normalisation does not necessarily mean that the two sides trust each other.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia at both the national and international level is likely to have a significant impact. While it could reduce tensions and lead to improved cooperation in areas such as trade, security, and energy, there are still deep-seated issues that may not be easily resolved. Both countries have supported opposing sides in conflicts throughout the Middle East, and there are religious and geopolitical tensions at play.

Furthermore, the resumption of diplomatic relations may be viewed differently by different segments of society in both countries. At the international level, the agreement could potentially reduce tensions, contribute to stability and peace, and increase China’s influence in the region. It may also have implications for other countries with interests in the Middle East, including the United States and Russia. Ultimately, the impact of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will depend on the actions of both countries going forward and whether they can work towards lasting peace and stability in the region. There is another issue which is vital for the Middle East.

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Iran and met with high-level officials to discuss enhanced cooperation and resolution of outstanding safeguards issues. Both parties agreed to collaborate, address issues related to three locations, and allow for voluntary verification and monitoring activities. Modalities for these activities will be agreed upon in a technical meeting in Tehran, and positive engagements could lead to wider agreements among state parties.  This agreement can further help in reducing the tension on the Iran nuclear deal. In conclusion, it is a good deal which can have a long lasting impact on the peace security in the Middle East.

Continue Reading

Middle East

Arab plan for Syria puts US and Europe in a bind

Avatar photo



Image source: twitter @MohamedBinZayed

A push by Arab allies of the United States to bring Syria in from the cold highlights the limits of a Chinese-mediated rapprochement between the Middle East’s archrivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The effort spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates, and supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, demonstrates that the expected restoration of diplomatic relations between the kingdom and the Islamic republic has done nothing to reduce geopolitical jockeying and rebuild trust.

At best, the Chinese-mediated agreement establishes guardrails to prevent regional rivalries from spinning out of control, a principle of Chinese policy towards the Middle East.

The Saudi-Iran agreement also is an exercise in regime survival.

It potentially allows the two countries to pursue their economic goals unfettered by regional tensions.

For Saudi Arabia, that means diversification and restructuring of the kingdom’s economy, while Iran seeks to offset the impact of harsh US sanctions.

The goal of countering Iran in Syria is upfront in the Arab proposal for returning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Arab and international fold.

If accepted by Syria, the United States, and Europe, it would initiate a political process that could produce a less sympathetic Syrian government to Iran.

It would also establish an Arab military presence in Syria designed to prevent Iran from extending its influence under the guise of securing the return of refugees.

For Mr. Al-Assad, the carrot is tens of billions of dollars needed to rebuild his war-ravaged country and alleviate the humanitarian fallout of last month’s devastating earthquakes in northern Syria.

Hampered by sanctions, Mr. Al-Assad’s Russian and Iranian backers don’t have the economic or political wherewithal to foot the bill.

Nevertheless, potential Gulf investment is likely to encounter obstacles. The US sanctions that hamper Russia and Iran, also erect barriers for Saudi Arabia and the UAE that will limit the degree to which they want to be seen as sanctions busters.

Moreover, countering Iranian influence in Syria would have to go beyond trade and investment in physical reconstruction. Iran has over the years garnered substantial soft power by focusing on embedding itself in Syrian culture and education, providing social services, and religious proselytization.

Meanwhile, China has made clear that its interests are commercial and further limited to aspects of Syrian reconstruction that serve its geopolitical and geoeconomic goals.

Mr. Al-Assad was in Moscow this week to discuss trade and humanitarian aid.

The Syrian president’s rejection of a Russian request that he meets his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggests that Mr. Al-Assad will be equally opposed to key elements of the Arab proposal.

The Syrian president said he would only meet Mr. Erdogan once Turkey withdraws its troops from rebel-held areas of northern Syria.

Even so, the Arab push potentially offers the United States and Europe the ability to strike a reasonable balance between their lofty moral, ethical, and human rights principles and the less savory contingencies of realpolitik.

The terms of the Arab proposal to allow Syria back into the international fold after a decade of brutal civil war that killed some 600,000 people, displaced millions more, and significantly enhanced Iran’s regional footprint appears to take that into account.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the proposal offers something for everyone but also contains elements that are likely to be difficult to swallow for various parties.

While Mr. Al-Assad rejects the principle of political reform and the presence of more foreign troops on Syrian territory, legitimizing the regime of a man accused of war crimes, including using chemical weapons against civilians, is a hard pill to swallow for the United States and Europe.

However, it is easy to claim the moral high ground on the backs of thousands trying to pick up the pieces in the wake of the earthquakes.

The same is true for the plight of the millions of refugees from the war whose presence in Turkey and elsewhere is increasingly precarious because of mounting anti-migrant sentiment.

That is not to say that Mr. Al-Assad should go scot-free.

Nonetheless, the failure to defeat the Syrian regime, after 12 years in which it brutally prosecuted a war with the backing of Russia and Iran, suggests the time has come to think out of the box.

The alternative is maintaining a status quo that can claim the moral high ground but holds out no prospect of change or alleviation of the plight of millions of innocent people.

To be sure, morality is not a concern of Arab regimes seeking to bring Mr. Al-Assad in from the cold. However, countering Iran and managing regional conflicts to prevent them from spinning out of control is.

Even so, the Arab proposition potentially opens a way out of a quagmire.

It would enhance the leverage of the United States and Europe to ensure that political reform is the cornerstone of Mr. Al-Assad’s engagement with elements of the Syrian opposition.

In other words, rather than rejecting any solution that does not involve Mr. Al-Assad’s removal from power, the United States and Europe could lift sanctions contingent on agreement and implementation of reforms.

Similarly, the US and Europe could make sanctions relief contingent on a safe, uninhibited, and orderly return of refugees.

However, there would be questions about the ability and willingness of Arab forces loyal to autocratic regimes to safeguard that process impartially.

US and European engagement with Arab proponents of dealing with Mr. Al-Assad would potentially also give them a seat on a train that has already left the station despite their objections.

Ali Shamkani, the Iranian national security official who negotiated the deal with Saudi Arabia in Beijing, was in the UAE this week to meet President Mohammed bin Zayed. There is little doubt that Syria was on the two men’s agenda.

Mr. Al-Assad met this weekend in Abu Dhabi with Mr. Bin Zayed for the second time in a year and traveled to Oman for talks with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq last month.

The Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers recently trekked separately to Damascus for the first time since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011.

Perhaps, the most fundamental obstacle to the Arab proposition is not the fact that Syria, the United States, and Europe would have to swallow bitter pills.

The prime obstacle is likely to be the Arab proponents of the plan. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are unlikely to stick to their guns in presenting the plan as a package.

Having taken the lead in cozying up to Mr. Al-Assad, the UAE has since last year demonstrated that it is willing to coax the Syrian leader to back away from Iran at whatever cost to prospects for reform or alleviation of the plight of his victims.

Saudi Arabia, like Qatar and several other Arab countries, initially opposed reconciliation but the kingdom has since embraced the notion of rehabilitation of Mr. Al-Assad.

In early March, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud noted “that there is a consensus building in the Arab world, that the status quo is not tenable. And that means we have to find a way to move beyond that status quo.”

Mr, Al-Saud insisted, however, that it was “too early” to discuss Syria’s return to the Arab League that groups the Middle East’s 22 Arab states. The League suspended Syrian membership in 2011 because of Mr. Al-Assad’s prosecution of the civil war.

Even so, this puts the ball in the US and European courts.

Much of the Arab proposition is about enticing the United States and Europe to be more accommodating and more inclined to a conditioned lifting of sanctions.

The problem is that Mr. Al-Assad is likely to call the Arab states’ bluff in the knowledge that Iran is his trump card.

A speedy in principle US and European embrace of the Arab proposition would hold Emirati and Saudi feet to the fire and put Mr. Al-Assad on the back foot.

Continue Reading



Intelligence17 mins ago

It’s high time to step up the protection of Europe’s critical maritime infrastructure

After the truth about the Nord Stream pipeline explosion came to light, the whole world knows that the United States...

Energy2 hours ago

Seeing Japan – Indonesia Collaboration in Energy Transition Cooperation

Holding the G7 presidency, Japan is increasingly active in establishing relations with several countries. One of them is Indonesia. The...

Economy6 hours ago

Women’s mobility must be a key focus in urban policy

Historically, cities across the world have been designed to fit the needs of able-bodied men, or a neutral, often male,...

Tech News8 hours ago

Lemon peel, flax fibres hold keys to eco-friendly car parts

Natural materials including farm waste can make autos and other industries more sustainable, less toxic By HELEN MASSY-BERESFORD Think of the...

World News10 hours ago

ABC news: Xi signals strength in Russia-China alliance

Chinese President Xi Jinping departed Moscow on Wednesday after two days of highly symbolic meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin,...

World News12 hours ago

Petr Pavl: “Ukraine must adjust to dwindling Western support”

“We must consider war weariness”, says Czech President Petr Pavl. According to Czech President Petr Pavl, Ukraine must adjust to...

World News14 hours ago

WP: The real lesson from the showy Xi-Putin meeting

Pentagon strategists have always divided the world into East and West, with U.S. regional forces under European Command or Indo-Pacific...