Predictions have been flowing with abundance about what will follow the control by the Syrian regular army and Hezbollah over the Syrian city of Qusair, and on the post- post-Qusair phase.
The Syrian regime and Hezbollah managed to retake the small city, lying on a crossroads between Damascus and its rural areas and Homs, and the eastern Bekaa Valley of Lebanon and Homs and its rural areas; it is the supply route for the regular army, as well as the Free Syrian Army and the rebels and their wounded, who are taken from Syrian territory to Lebanon. But Qusair is just one part in the ongoing struggle.
If the military people on both sides are talking about the coming phase, the friends of the regime in Damascus never cease to offer scenarios about the coming military phase. Hezbollah's media is doing the same thing, and all of these scenarios merely reiterate that the party will continue to participate in the war on Syrian territory more intensively, bogging Hezbollah down even more in the long Syrian crisis.
The Syrian opposition, which has loudly called on the international community for help to no avail, helped make the Qusair battle a momentous one, the importance attached by the regime and Hezbollah to recovering Qusair from the rebels, and the general mobilization that preceded the battle, made it into a Stalingrad-type episode. But the comparison quickly fades as the other battles that the regime turns to, supported by Iran and Hezbollah. This tripartite alliance, supported by Russia, expects that it will benefit from controlling Qusair, to finish up with the remaining villages surrounding the city. Then, it will begin a battle to recover Aleppo, as the party's media predicts that this will be settled soon. This is despite the fact that the Qusair battle required more than three weeks to overcome the opposition fighters.
The narrow circle of people around President Bashar Assad hint that the post-Qusair phase will not be limited to controlling Aleppo, but that a large military operation campaign to re-take all of the southern Deraa region will precede this, or come in parallel, after the fall of rebel positions in the rest of rural Damascus. Then, an attack on Deraa will be made from all sides, including the governorate of Suwaida. All of this means that Qusair is only one part of the chain of the new phase in the Syrian war, which will continue relentlessly after the formation of a (67,000-man strong) pro-regime Popular Army, trained by Iran for three months in urban warfare. To this can be added Hezbollah fighters, after the discovery of the absence of Syrian army military tactics during the first two years of the crisis.
But it is not reasonable for the goal of seeing artillery, massacres, occupying areas and using Sarin gas to be limited to using the military "achievements" in negotiations over holding the Geneva 2 conference for a political solution, which was launched by the United States and Russia more than a month ago. Perhaps the failure of the initial negotiations on the representation of Syrians and regional players at Geneva 2 is a clear sign that the objective is not to arrive at a "transitional executive authority with full powers,' as stipulated by Geneva 1. The phrase, while it is impossible to agree upon whether it means Assad's departure before the beginning of the political process, or at the end of it, is subject to the interpretation of Russia and Iran, which means – thanks to the military developments – acknowledgment that Assad will remain in power. This has made the accord on Geneva 2 a mere Russian maneuver and a game to buy time by the Americans, without ending the crisis, but rather seeing it remain under control as much as possible, without its spreading regionally.
Even if Geneva 2 takes place, it will be a continuation of the charade that covers the efforts by Moscow and Tehran and those with them to see the opposition surrender. It will be impossible for the opposition to sign off on this, while the US will continue to try and see the war of attrition between local and regional warring parties continue on Syrian territory, provided that it does not harm Israel's security and not hit at US interests in the region.
The post-Qusair phase is a long-term one, as long as the two parties to the crisis are kept distant from settling the struggle. The minimum will be a halt in the momentum of the opposition, which was looking forward to waging the battle of Damascus. This would have reduced the areas controlled by the opposition in order to set up a zone protecting the regime, with areas of influence divided up between the parties and front lines created, similar to those of the Lebanese civil war. This is as long as there is an inability to arrive at the maximum, namely the surrender or total defeat of the opposition.
Just as the Syrian opposition cannot make concessions, it would be a fatal blow to Hezbollah if its military momentum is stopped in Syria, after the sacrifices it has made and the casualties it has lost and will lose, in favor of a settlement with American-Israeli-takfiri alliance, as it terms it. The party can no longer retreat from the mobilization it undertook to wage the war. It might be obliged to turn to the domestic arena in this war, if it feels that a settlement might result, or that its rivals might benefit from the dissipation of its power outside Lebanon.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.