Syria: “It’s really the failure of the international community”

Syria: “It’s really the failure of the international community”

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Guta Oriental was a thorn in the side of the Syrian Army, one of the last bastions of the rebels and also before the gates of Damascus. Will the accounts come to Assad to occupy the city and expel civilians?

Kristin Helberg: What happens in Guta Oriental has also been able to observe the years spent in other places. The Syrian regime militarily reconquered the areas controlled by the opposition, because they were originally centers of peaceful uprising and then occupied by various groups of rebels. At present they are areas of detente, which should be called areas of recrudescence, because President Assad wants to have them under control. The methods used are always the same: they block them, they let them die of hunger, they bomb them permanently to deprive the population of their means of subsistence and force them to resign. It is about subduing or expelling people. It is not a war against terrorists, but a collective punishment to the population,

Turkey must actually protect the demilitarized zone around the rebel stronghold in Idlib, but it seems to allow the regime to act at ease in exchange for being able to do the same in Afrin against the Kurds.

All the guarantors that must actually carry out the detente in certain areas, Russia, Iran and Turkey, have failed, because they are at the same time interventionist powers, pursuing their own military interests in Syria.

Turkey has another priority to protect the demilitarized zone, wants to annihilate or, at least, militarily weaken the Popular Protection Units, YPG. For this, the Turkish president is willing to cede to the Assad regime in the Idlib region, where an offensive by land has already begun. More than 200,000 people have fled, some for the second or third time. In the end, Idlib will have the same fate as Homs, East Aleppo, Eastern Guta and other regions. Al Assad cleans the country politically: followers can stay, detractors must leave the country. He himself speaks of “a more homogeneous and healthy society”.

If all this could have been foreseen, why has not any power reacted to help people? Or has it never been tried to support a regime change in Syria?

Assad’s detractors, activists, rebels, opponents, have never received the necessary support to overthrow the regime. Above all, civil resistance feels abandoned by the West. The problem in Syria is that everyone interferes, but nobody helps the civilian population. No military power in Syria is concerned with protecting citizens. Everyone pursues their own interests. It is really the failure of the international community. Russia and Iran support the Assad regime militarily, diplomatically and economically. With his help, he can reconquer regions and dominate the country.

Is it unrealistic for people to want to leave Guta Oriental?

It can not be that we try to “evacuate” 380,000 people.If we want to help citizens in this region we have to stop air attacks, supply them and receive international protection wherever they live, in their homeland.People do not want to be expelled , because he knows what awaits him in Idlib.

Helberg Kristin, political scientist and expert in the Arab world.Helberg Kristin, political scientist and expert in the Arab world.

The CIA supported the rebels, but always on the condition that they fight against terrorism. Did the United States, from the beginning, try to fight against the IS rather than against the Assad?

The United States, already under the Obama administration, meddled as little as possible in Syria. The important thing for Washington in Syria was the fight against EI in the first place. The fighters, formed by the United States, had to fight against EI, while the majority of the people suffered the Russian and Syrian air attacks. From their perspective, these rebels were vassals from the West, who fought against jihadist terrorism and ignored Assad’s state terrorism. The Syrians were radicalized even more and in the end, the Islamist groups had more support in the population, because they were the only ones who faced the Assad regime and also supplied the population.

What are the current interests of Turkey, Russia and Iran?

Vladimir Putin wants to end a very expensive war for Russia and seal the military result diplomatically. Al Assad would become the legitimate ruler and partner for the reconstruction of the country. Russia and its other partners could not afford it.

Syria is for Tehran a bridge to the Mediterranean Sea and Hezbollah. Iran wants to expand its radius of influence and, because in Syria there are almost no Shiites, a regime that acts defending Iran’s interests is necessary. Iran has secured a permanent presence in Syria through military and political structures, which alarm the Israeli government.

Turkey wants to avoid Kurdish autonomy in Syria. Erdogan announced that he wants to “liberate” the entire border from the YPG to Iraq, which would lead to a confrontation with the United States, because he has so far defended the Kurds east of Afrin.

How should Europe react to Assad and its structures in the future?

Europe should not normalize its relations with the regime and not participate in the reconstruction of the country under Assad. The regime uses reconstruction to reward its followers and punish its detractors. Part of the disloyal population will be relocated, expelled, dispossessed. Germany could lead the international prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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