So, there is a near consensus that regional and international discussions of the Syria crisis are largely taken up with talk of the “day after” the fall of the regime. This phrase is being repeated by most officials in the capitals of concerned countries.
This discussion of the “day after” skips over the possibilities that things might become more complex after the fall of the regime, if the conflict is prolonged, and few people anticipate how long this could take. This means more destruction and killing, and thus hatred, which will govern the transitional period that Syria experiences after the regime’s collapse, making it even more difficult to manage things.
The methodological and total destruction of cities and areas surrounding Damascus, after the same befell Homs, Aleppo and Hama, goes far beyond what people see on television. This carnage is merely evidence that the head of the regime and the small circle of his aides have taken it upon themselves to carry out what others had earlier quoted them as saying: “If they want to take Damascus, they can have it, razed to the ground.” The people who are implementing this policy are a handful of senior officers, confident that the scores of artillery pieces and rocket-launchers on Qassioun Mountain, overlooking the capital, are enough to carry out this mission. Meanwhile, a significant number of senior, fanatically loyal officers, particularly from the Alawi sect, have begun leaving Damascus for the city of Latakia and surrounding areas on the coast and its mountains. Their mission is to hole up there, to prolong the confrontation between the regime and the opposition as long as possible, because of the cooperation between the regime and Iran and Hezbollah fighters to see that these regions and others (even in the Syrian interior) remain untaken by the rebels for as long as possible.
On Thursday, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said that “as for preparing for victory by the opposition, this, of course, cannot be excluded,” because the regime is losing control over more and more of the country’s territory. This appears to be an implicit admission that it will be impossible to see a transitional phase that includes Assad’s remaining in power instead of beginning the process now without him, as has been favored by the “Friends of Syria” ever since the adoption of the Geneva Plan in June. This admission by Bogdanov shuts the door on what the remaining defenders of Assad in the resistance camp, which moves in the orbit of Iran, were saying a few weeks ago. They gave voice to the delusional speculation that a political settlement of the Syrian crisis was approaching thanks to an agreement between the regional and international countries hostile to Assad, and the BRIC countries, to see Assad remain in power. Most likely, these remaining “resistance” forces implicitly hope to negotiate over their “share” in Syria in a bazaar of pending regional issues between Iran and the Arab-western camp, after this bazaar was opened between Moscow and Washington during talks in Dublin and Geneva last week.
Reducing the level of hopes in the pro-resistance camp, and particularly Iran, does not mean that new hopes can be achieved. However, the insistence on prolonging Syria’s dark night of blood and destruction that precedes the “day after” is meant to make the post-Assad regime phase extremely difficult for the western-Arab camp. The only result is more murder and annihilation of the Syrian people under a scorched-earth policy that pays no attention to the damage this will entail for Syria, for it as a country and for its remaining institutions, as well as for the sectarian and religious communities in Syria and its neighbors.
Supporters of the regime as well as its opponents realize that Assad no longer exercises control over Syria, and that he has become isolated from everyone around him, living in a delusionary world of his own. He has allowed a handful of criminal officers to lead the confrontation and commit unprecedented atrocities. Assad has left them to run things, as they coordinate their actions with the remaining countries that support the regime, until the very last moment. They hope that the mission of peace keeping forces that might be sent by the United Nations Security Council, following a Russian-western agreement, and comprised of soldiers from Arab states (distant from Syria) and Asian Muslim and Latin American countries, will become a difficult one as soon as it begins. They hope that peacekeeping forces will end up being saddle with the task of separating regions of influence, instead of assisting in seeing a united Syria. They want this mission to become one of managing a new stage of the crisis and the conflict among areas of influence, instead of seeing the international community oversee a process of reconciliation among the communities of Syria and the political and economic reconstruction of this ravaged country.
The regime will certainly fall. However, what is taking place today is a race between those who will try to divide up the burden that results, and those who seek to render this burden a time bomb that is inherited by the new rulers. It is also a race between those who are planning to push the military-political bloc that continues to fight with it to preserve the privileges that they have gained and between those who are working to secure guarantees for this bloc, if it helps speed up the collapse from within, instead of renewing the conflict on the "day after." And the friends of Syria do not appear to be in a hurry.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.