Address Realities In Munich Peace Talks

Dialogue With Commonsense And Reality Urgently Needed In Syria


It is widely acknowledged that even in the jungle where common sense is not common to common creatures, there is always a way of getting order maintained.


There can thus be no reason or excuse whatsoever why for more than four years of devastating chaotic situations in Syria, international community is still struggling to find anything close to order in that country which used to be one of the prospering nations in the middle east.

The great Mr. Kofi Annan’s failure, resignation and damning departing statement as joint UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria could sum it better. Annan particularly goes as frustratingly saying; “[as] an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than the Security Council or the international community, for that matter”. Thus, none of the parties was interested in his six-point peace plan launched in 2012 other than fostering their parochial interests. His successor, renowned Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, followed suit because the status quo which hampered efforts of Kofi Annan was persistent and perhaps even became more established.

At the same time, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime appeared to be crumbling at one point and stabilizing at another point.

Assad was probably just happy maintaining the small relevant territory he had under his control other than losing it all. However, even though President Vladimir Putin later stepped in by September 2015 to help Assad to regain stability and recapture lost territories, his forces after few months of operations have been said to significantly incur a serious blow on ISIS in Syria as they run more for safe haven than before. Assad’s forces have also been able to recapture strategic towns including Aleppo due to Russia’s airstrikes against some of the forces regarded by USA as legitimate and moderate opposition groups – which apparently are not recognized as such by Russia. Russia’s presence in Syria is a game changer and has indeed changed the game of recapturing territories, of course for Assad.

Realizing the increasing gains and stability of Assad’s regime and the collision course USA was likely heading with Russia, which would be severely disastrous, the peace processes that had been somewhat dormant after the exit of Annan and Brahimi were enigmatically but naturally ignited resulting in the ongoing peace talks at Munich in Germany.

Quite clearly, US State Secretary, John Kerry and his counterparts have been able to pull strings and sober moves to galvanize mutual understanding which has led to the agreement by participating groups including Russia and warring factions in Syria to the cessation of hostilities within a week from 12th February. This move is certainly good news to anyone that has care and sympathy for thousands (at least 250, 0000) human lives that have been wasted and millions of suffering refugees, internally displaced or locked up civilians in Syria.

The fact is that despite diplomatic chess played between USA and Russia in the midst of these complex dynamics, Russia would not want to see anything that would make it impossible for her to complete its business of eliminating all threats to the existence of Assad’s regime. Russia also says she is defending her national interest because some of the fighters are Russians and would return to Russia to inflict terror on her citizens. On the other hand, USA and her allies would want Assad to step down even though they may now feel it is a distant reality. However, it would be difficult to ask USA and her allies to stop supporting the course of the so-called ‘moderate and legitimate’ opposition elements such as FSA.

Meanwhile, both Assad’s regime and all opposition elements have committed horrendous acts, which would have been unpardonable. USA and her allies as well as Russia have equally caused the lost of many civilian lives during their air campaigns. The situation presents a nauseating competition between ideal situation, illegalities and disorderliness.

There has to be a fine middle line under the interwoven circumstances.
That is the more reason why common sense approach along international legal perimeters must be made to prevail, henceforth.

I am not sure of what really has been put forward by parties at the peace talks in Munich. I would however want to posit that one clear pathway to common understanding is the resolve to ensure that Russia and USA together with her allies get the following done concurrently, without fail:

Russia should cease her airstrikes and prevail over Assad and his government to also end the hostilities in a week as agreed in Munich. Any of pro-government forces that refuse to comply or to be prevailed upon by Assad or Russia should be regarded as enemies, targeted collectively and eliminated. At the same time, Russia and Assad should be made to recognize the ‘legitimate and moderate’ opposition groups as viable partners to a peaceful and stable Syria while leaving no stone unturned to eliminate the visibly violent opposition groups as mutually identified by all legitimate partners in the game.

In the same vein, USA and her allies should immediately stop its airstrikes and operations to weaken Assad’s regime while prevailing over the ‘legitimate and moderate’ opposition groups to end all hostilities against Assad regime and its allies as well as making these groups recognize Assad as the only democratically elected and legitimate President of Syria. Any of such groups that cannot be prevailed upon by USA through peaceful means has to be destroyed by collective forces of both USA and Russia.

If these feats are achieved, the opposition groups should be disbanded, the leaders of which made to play key roles in a new government that would be led by Assad until his 7 year tenure ends. The opposition elements may have the fear of being witch hunted, arbitrarily imprisoned or ostracized. These fears are legitimate and must be made to be part of the assurances Assad will give in a peace pact.

Assad may also harbor the fear that these ‘legitimate and moderate’ opposition elements may make his government ungovernable as they may not agree on governance processes. Although it is all about consensus building, these concerns should also be upon which assurances the opposition elements must give in the peace pact. Assad may also harbor the fundamental fear that if he steps aside after his legitimate tenure ends, he may be witch hunted by any opposition element that may succeed him. Guarantees should be given on this too so that Assad would feel safer and willing to exit the governance scene after his legitimate tenure expires.

These are democratic sacrifices that ought to be made regardless of the inconveniences and moral issues that could be raised. Crucifying some democratic tenets or principles for a greater good is far better than maintaining or protecting such principles for a worse consequence when there may be none or only few left to bear any testimony, I dare say.

All the warring factions must be made to understand quite clearly that anyone who breaches the tenets of the peace pact that would be signed shall be vehemently attacked by the combined forces of Russia, USA and her allies as well as concerned global forces. United Nations should see to the fullest implementation of the peace pact and processes.

Look, Assad and other warring factions excluding those outside the ‘somewhat in control’ of USA and her allies will respond swiftly if they see that USA and Russia are really committed to implementing decisions reached by all of them. However, if these warring factions feel that Russia and USA and other Western powers are using Syria as a staging post for another cold war or a possible world war, they definitely would not take them very seriously.

A clear message to Russia and the Western countries and their allies led by USA, which must serve as a reminder is that, it is neither in their interest nor in the interest of Syrians and the rest of the world to create any possibility that rehearses its way towards a cold war or a third world war.

Immediately however, the humanitarian and refugee crises caused by the Syrian conflict are terrible eyesores urgently seeking for urgent remedies. While working assiduously to end the conflict through genuine overtures, the world leaders should please work around the clock to protect the fundamental human rights of millions of refugees presented rightly by NATO’s Secretary General on BBC radio of 13th February 2016 as the ‘biggest crises of refugees in Europe since the second world war’.

Ultimately, the concern should not be about who is right or otherwise. What is most important under the prevailing circumstances must have everything to do with right things to do, going forward.

Mutual and collective sacrifices, commitments, genuineness and open-mindedness must form the fortress on which the forward march efforts will be harnessed. Otherwise, the Munich Peace talks may eventually end up to be a talk-shop that wasted every body’s precious time.

Source: Adam Abukari
International Legal Specialist
[email protected]

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