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Syria is on the brink of partition - here's how it got there

By the end of 2017, Syria will probably become a country of four parts

Scott Lucas 

Syria
A man carries a child with an IV drip as he flees deeper into the remaining rebel-held areas of Aleppo

After nearly six years of uprising, conflict and chaos, the partition of imminent. President will of course rail against it; his crucial ally will probably resist too, and the marginalised won’t even acknowledge the prospect. But the lines are nonetheless being drawn.

With pro-Assad forces back in control of city, a newly co-operative Turkey and Russia are ready to pursue partition as a short-term resolution. The Syrian opposition and many rebels will embrace it as their best immediate option, and the leading political and military groups will settle for whatever autonomy they can get. If things continue shaping up this way, by the end of 2017, will quite probably become a country of four parts.

The Russia- and Iran-backed Assad regime set to hold much of the south and west, and most of Syria’s cities. There’ll most likely be a Turkish/rebel area, effectively a “safe zone”, in parts of northern Syria; the Syrian opposition will probably control Idlib province and possibly other pockets of territory in the northwest; while the Kurds will have some form of autonomy in the northeast.

A settlement like this has been a long time coming. Neither the Assad regime nor its enemies will settle for just a part of Syria, and both have survived years of intense conflict. The opposition and rebels still control territory from the north to the south; Assad clings on with the help of Russian aerial bombardments and Iranian-led ground forces. All the while, the Democratic Party (PYD) and its YPG militia are still defending territory against both and the Assad regime.

If the lines of a potential partition were clear some time ago, what stood in the way of recognising them was the challenge of city. Without recapturing it, the Assad regime had no hope of claiming an economic recovery (however disingenousouly) in the areas it controlled, let alone in the entire country. But the city was surrounded by opposition-controlled territory; Assad’s military was far too depleted to change the game, and even with outside support, its campaign would be protracted.

The deal

The turning point came in August 2016 when and began to reconcile. The two countries had always been on opposite sides of the conflict, supporting the opposition and rebels and Assad. Their relations had been tense since November 2015, when Ankara’s jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border. But within a year, both saw the advantages not only of reconcilation, but of agreeing on what their respective spheres of influence in should be.

A deal was quickly established: would accept the reoccupation of all of city by pro-Assad forces, supported by Russian-Syrian siege and bombing tactics, while would accept a Turkish military intervention alongside rebels in northern Syria, including much of province.

Which where we are now. Civilians and rebels have been evacuated from or allowed to leave the last opposition holdouts in eastern city. The Turkish-rebel offensive continues to push back IS, although it facing difficulties in its assault on al-Bab, the group’s last major position in province.

A national ceasefire, brokered by and in the last days of 2016, but pro-Assad forces are breaking it in offensives near The two countries are trying to arrange political talks between the regime and the Syrian opposition later this month in

As Andrey Kortunov, director of a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, summarised it to Reuters: “There has been a move toward a compromise … a final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted.” The same story quotes a “senior Turkish government official” explaining that the convergence “doesn’t mean we approve of Assad. But we have come to an understanding. When wiped out, may support in finishing off the PKK.”

So can the Turkish-Russian initiative win over (or put down) everyone else who has a stake in the outcome?

The obstacles

The biggest immediate challenge in the opposition-controlled areas near The Assad regime has already taken back many of the suburbs, but two key areas are still beyond its control: Wadi Barada to the northwest, and East Ghouta and Douma to the northeast.

Wadi Barada home to the al-Fijah springs, which provide more than 60% of Damascus’s water. Since mid-December 2016, the Assad regime’s forces and have been trying to overwhelm it with bombing, shelling, and ground assaults. In the process, the pumping station for the springs has been damaged, cutting off or limiting water to about 5.5m people.

At the same time, the Syrian Army and its allied militias are trying to take more territory near Douma, which the centre for the leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam. critical of the offensive, staying silent, and the Iranian government and possibly its military are backing it.

Then there’s the Syrian movement. The would like to unite its area in the northeast with a canton in the northwest, while would like to push back any zone of influence and elevate other groups over the With the Assad regime opposed to autonomy of any sort, the only agreeable option may be containment: will probably accept a area east of the Euphrates River, limiting any zone of control or potential military advance. The PYD, knowing it has no powerful backing, will accept the offer, even if it isolates the area in and near city.

As for Assad himself, the Syrian opposition continues to demand that he step down – but few are bothering any more. The effectively gave up the cause in 2012, and the have gone quiet, and seems not to care much. He may one day be offered the chance to step down peacefully when elections are arranged, but in the meantime he will stay where he

Confronted with the increasingly effective Turkish-Russian axis, a official opted for condescencion: “So this country that essentially has an economy the size of Spain, that’s Russia, strutting around and acting like they know what they are doing. I don’t think the Turks and the Russians can [negotiate] without

This pure bluster. For three years now, has been feigning co-operation with the US, and in the process has deftly manoeuvred its Western rival onto the sidelines. If Washington pushes back too hard, it could wreck its relationship with – which grants it access to key airbases – and end up framed as the main obstacle to a major breakthrough.

The events of the last seven months have only reconfirmed what’s been clear for some time: there is no optimal solution to the Syrian crisis. Partition far from ideal, and it may only be short-term — but at this point, it’s the only viable alternative to endless slaughter, displacement, and destruction.


Scott Lucas, Professor of International Politics, University of Birmingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation

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Syria is on the brink of partition - here's how it got there

By the end of 2017, Syria will probably become a country of four parts

By the end of 2017, Syria will probably become a country of four parts

After nearly six years of uprising, conflict and chaos, the partition of imminent. President will of course rail against it; his crucial ally will probably resist too, and the marginalised won’t even acknowledge the prospect. But the lines are nonetheless being drawn.

With pro-Assad forces back in control of city, a newly co-operative Turkey and Russia are ready to pursue partition as a short-term resolution. The Syrian opposition and many rebels will embrace it as their best immediate option, and the leading political and military groups will settle for whatever autonomy they can get. If things continue shaping up this way, by the end of 2017, will quite probably become a country of four parts.

The Russia- and Iran-backed Assad regime set to hold much of the south and west, and most of Syria’s cities. There’ll most likely be a Turkish/rebel area, effectively a “safe zone”, in parts of northern Syria; the Syrian opposition will probably control Idlib province and possibly other pockets of territory in the northwest; while the Kurds will have some form of autonomy in the northeast.

A settlement like this has been a long time coming. Neither the Assad regime nor its enemies will settle for just a part of Syria, and both have survived years of intense conflict. The opposition and rebels still control territory from the north to the south; Assad clings on with the help of Russian aerial bombardments and Iranian-led ground forces. All the while, the Democratic Party (PYD) and its YPG militia are still defending territory against both and the Assad regime.

If the lines of a potential partition were clear some time ago, what stood in the way of recognising them was the challenge of city. Without recapturing it, the Assad regime had no hope of claiming an economic recovery (however disingenousouly) in the areas it controlled, let alone in the entire country. But the city was surrounded by opposition-controlled territory; Assad’s military was far too depleted to change the game, and even with outside support, its campaign would be protracted.

The deal

The turning point came in August 2016 when and began to reconcile. The two countries had always been on opposite sides of the conflict, supporting the opposition and rebels and Assad. Their relations had been tense since November 2015, when Ankara’s jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border. But within a year, both saw the advantages not only of reconcilation, but of agreeing on what their respective spheres of influence in should be.

A deal was quickly established: would accept the reoccupation of all of city by pro-Assad forces, supported by Russian-Syrian siege and bombing tactics, while would accept a Turkish military intervention alongside rebels in northern Syria, including much of province.

Which where we are now. Civilians and rebels have been evacuated from or allowed to leave the last opposition holdouts in eastern city. The Turkish-rebel offensive continues to push back IS, although it facing difficulties in its assault on al-Bab, the group’s last major position in province.

A national ceasefire, brokered by and in the last days of 2016, but pro-Assad forces are breaking it in offensives near The two countries are trying to arrange political talks between the regime and the Syrian opposition later this month in

As Andrey Kortunov, director of a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, summarised it to Reuters: “There has been a move toward a compromise … a final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted.” The same story quotes a “senior Turkish government official” explaining that the convergence “doesn’t mean we approve of Assad. But we have come to an understanding. When wiped out, may support in finishing off the PKK.”

So can the Turkish-Russian initiative win over (or put down) everyone else who has a stake in the outcome?

The obstacles

The biggest immediate challenge in the opposition-controlled areas near The Assad regime has already taken back many of the suburbs, but two key areas are still beyond its control: Wadi Barada to the northwest, and East Ghouta and Douma to the northeast.

Wadi Barada home to the al-Fijah springs, which provide more than 60% of Damascus’s water. Since mid-December 2016, the Assad regime’s forces and have been trying to overwhelm it with bombing, shelling, and ground assaults. In the process, the pumping station for the springs has been damaged, cutting off or limiting water to about 5.5m people.

At the same time, the Syrian Army and its allied militias are trying to take more territory near Douma, which the centre for the leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam. critical of the offensive, staying silent, and the Iranian government and possibly its military are backing it.

Then there’s the Syrian movement. The would like to unite its area in the northeast with a canton in the northwest, while would like to push back any zone of influence and elevate other groups over the With the Assad regime opposed to autonomy of any sort, the only agreeable option may be containment: will probably accept a area east of the Euphrates River, limiting any zone of control or potential military advance. The PYD, knowing it has no powerful backing, will accept the offer, even if it isolates the area in and near city.

As for Assad himself, the Syrian opposition continues to demand that he step down – but few are bothering any more. The effectively gave up the cause in 2012, and the have gone quiet, and seems not to care much. He may one day be offered the chance to step down peacefully when elections are arranged, but in the meantime he will stay where he

Confronted with the increasingly effective Turkish-Russian axis, a official opted for condescencion: “So this country that essentially has an economy the size of Spain, that’s Russia, strutting around and acting like they know what they are doing. I don’t think the Turks and the Russians can [negotiate] without

This pure bluster. For three years now, has been feigning co-operation with the US, and in the process has deftly manoeuvred its Western rival onto the sidelines. If Washington pushes back too hard, it could wreck its relationship with – which grants it access to key airbases – and end up framed as the main obstacle to a major breakthrough.

The events of the last seven months have only reconfirmed what’s been clear for some time: there is no optimal solution to the Syrian crisis. Partition far from ideal, and it may only be short-term — but at this point, it’s the only viable alternative to endless slaughter, displacement, and destruction.


Scott Lucas, Professor of International Politics, University of Birmingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation
image
Business Standard
177 22

Syria is on the brink of partition - here's how it got there

By the end of 2017, Syria will probably become a country of four parts

After nearly six years of uprising, conflict and chaos, the partition of imminent. President will of course rail against it; his crucial ally will probably resist too, and the marginalised won’t even acknowledge the prospect. But the lines are nonetheless being drawn.

With pro-Assad forces back in control of city, a newly co-operative Turkey and Russia are ready to pursue partition as a short-term resolution. The Syrian opposition and many rebels will embrace it as their best immediate option, and the leading political and military groups will settle for whatever autonomy they can get. If things continue shaping up this way, by the end of 2017, will quite probably become a country of four parts.

The Russia- and Iran-backed Assad regime set to hold much of the south and west, and most of Syria’s cities. There’ll most likely be a Turkish/rebel area, effectively a “safe zone”, in parts of northern Syria; the Syrian opposition will probably control Idlib province and possibly other pockets of territory in the northwest; while the Kurds will have some form of autonomy in the northeast.

A settlement like this has been a long time coming. Neither the Assad regime nor its enemies will settle for just a part of Syria, and both have survived years of intense conflict. The opposition and rebels still control territory from the north to the south; Assad clings on with the help of Russian aerial bombardments and Iranian-led ground forces. All the while, the Democratic Party (PYD) and its YPG militia are still defending territory against both and the Assad regime.

If the lines of a potential partition were clear some time ago, what stood in the way of recognising them was the challenge of city. Without recapturing it, the Assad regime had no hope of claiming an economic recovery (however disingenousouly) in the areas it controlled, let alone in the entire country. But the city was surrounded by opposition-controlled territory; Assad’s military was far too depleted to change the game, and even with outside support, its campaign would be protracted.

The deal

The turning point came in August 2016 when and began to reconcile. The two countries had always been on opposite sides of the conflict, supporting the opposition and rebels and Assad. Their relations had been tense since November 2015, when Ankara’s jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border. But within a year, both saw the advantages not only of reconcilation, but of agreeing on what their respective spheres of influence in should be.

A deal was quickly established: would accept the reoccupation of all of city by pro-Assad forces, supported by Russian-Syrian siege and bombing tactics, while would accept a Turkish military intervention alongside rebels in northern Syria, including much of province.

Which where we are now. Civilians and rebels have been evacuated from or allowed to leave the last opposition holdouts in eastern city. The Turkish-rebel offensive continues to push back IS, although it facing difficulties in its assault on al-Bab, the group’s last major position in province.

A national ceasefire, brokered by and in the last days of 2016, but pro-Assad forces are breaking it in offensives near The two countries are trying to arrange political talks between the regime and the Syrian opposition later this month in

As Andrey Kortunov, director of a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, summarised it to Reuters: “There has been a move toward a compromise … a final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted.” The same story quotes a “senior Turkish government official” explaining that the convergence “doesn’t mean we approve of Assad. But we have come to an understanding. When wiped out, may support in finishing off the PKK.”

So can the Turkish-Russian initiative win over (or put down) everyone else who has a stake in the outcome?

The obstacles

The biggest immediate challenge in the opposition-controlled areas near The Assad regime has already taken back many of the suburbs, but two key areas are still beyond its control: Wadi Barada to the northwest, and East Ghouta and Douma to the northeast.

Wadi Barada home to the al-Fijah springs, which provide more than 60% of Damascus’s water. Since mid-December 2016, the Assad regime’s forces and have been trying to overwhelm it with bombing, shelling, and ground assaults. In the process, the pumping station for the springs has been damaged, cutting off or limiting water to about 5.5m people.

At the same time, the Syrian Army and its allied militias are trying to take more territory near Douma, which the centre for the leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam. critical of the offensive, staying silent, and the Iranian government and possibly its military are backing it.

Then there’s the Syrian movement. The would like to unite its area in the northeast with a canton in the northwest, while would like to push back any zone of influence and elevate other groups over the With the Assad regime opposed to autonomy of any sort, the only agreeable option may be containment: will probably accept a area east of the Euphrates River, limiting any zone of control or potential military advance. The PYD, knowing it has no powerful backing, will accept the offer, even if it isolates the area in and near city.

As for Assad himself, the Syrian opposition continues to demand that he step down – but few are bothering any more. The effectively gave up the cause in 2012, and the have gone quiet, and seems not to care much. He may one day be offered the chance to step down peacefully when elections are arranged, but in the meantime he will stay where he

Confronted with the increasingly effective Turkish-Russian axis, a official opted for condescencion: “So this country that essentially has an economy the size of Spain, that’s Russia, strutting around and acting like they know what they are doing. I don’t think the Turks and the Russians can [negotiate] without

This pure bluster. For three years now, has been feigning co-operation with the US, and in the process has deftly manoeuvred its Western rival onto the sidelines. If Washington pushes back too hard, it could wreck its relationship with – which grants it access to key airbases – and end up framed as the main obstacle to a major breakthrough.

The events of the last seven months have only reconfirmed what’s been clear for some time: there is no optimal solution to the Syrian crisis. Partition far from ideal, and it may only be short-term — but at this point, it’s the only viable alternative to endless slaughter, displacement, and destruction.


Scott Lucas, Professor of International Politics, University of Birmingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation

image
Business Standard
177 22