by Mohammad Halabi (Letters To The Editor, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 2, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1437)
Peace in Syria requires the abandonment of unrealistic demands and a transparent political process to enable all the people to participate in it.
The US-Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria that went into effect on February 27 seems to be holding, even if tenuously. Indirect talks between the Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition groups have also been held. How much progress they have made is difficult to quantify but as long as people are talking and not fighting and killing, that can be considered progress. The Russian announcement of March 14 that it will withdraw the bulk of its forces from Syria has also helped although it was made clear that there would be no let up in fighting against the takfiri terrorists (aka ISIL/ISIS or Da‘ish).
So what are the chances for peace in Syria? The people desperately need peace; they need to return to their shattered homes, villages, and towns to start the painful process of rebuilding. But for genuine peace to prevail, a number of steps must be taken.
First, the myriad opposition groups must stop making ludicrous demands like the ouster of President Bashar al-Asad from power. It is for the Syrian people — all of them — to decide whether they want him as president or not. Al-Asad has announced parliamentary elections for this month. These should be facilitated so that the political process can begin. The government must be held to its promise to ensure that elections are transparent and that all political groups not involved in terrorism are able to participate. These are not insurmountable challenges but require a great deal of goodwill that unfortunately is in very short supply these days.
Laval, PQ, Canada