Chinese Diplomacy May Not Bring an End to Syrian Crisis

A new Chinese draft resolution to end the violence in Syria does not say anything new beyond what was already proposed and rejected by the 'official' Syrian opposition.

A senior Chinese emissary is expected to arrive in Syria on Tuesday in order to hold discussions with Bashar Assad regarding the Chinese resolution to end the Syria crisis. It seems that this time - taking into account China’s support for Assad - the resolution will be able to bring about a turnaround in the crisis and allow the building of a foundation for dialogue between the opposition and the regime. China passed along a draft of the resolution to both the government and the opposition that contains six points for ending the violence on all sides and the preparation for a dialogue that will eventually bring about the reforms demanded by the opposition. Along with the emissary’s visit, Syria announced that it is ready to receive Kofi Annan, who was appointed as a special envoy by the UN Secretary General, and who will try to reach an angreement with the regime to open the country to humanitarian aid and allow the wounded to receive medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Arab analysts estimate that Russia will also change its stance regarding Assad in the wake of Putin’s election victory, and the possibility that his continued support of the Syrian regime may cause Russia’s influence over Arab states, and the Gulf States in particular (who maintain a militant stance toward Assad’s regime), will dwindle.

China, UN resolution on Syria - 4.2.12 - AP

Despite the fact that China’s resolution does not say anything new beyond what was already proposed and rejected by the “official“ Syrian opposition - which demands the ouster of Assad as a precondition for opening dialogue - the latest events indicate that the opposition does not have any practical options that will bring about Assad’s fall. Thus, the Free Syrian Army was resigned to withdraw from the Baba Amr quarter in Homs, to retreat from the Rastan neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus, and it seems that even the intention to open a military front in Daraa will lead to failure due to a large concentration of the Syrian army, which according to reports from Daraa, is planning to retake the city on March 15 - the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the uprising.

The opposition of several Arab countries, most importantly Egypt, to arming the opposition in Syria, as well as Turkey’s hesitant position which prevents the funneling of weapons to the rebels and NATO’s secretary-generals position that states even if the UN decides to attack Syria, NATO will not take any part makes it clear to the opposition that a military victory is not an option. This, even if Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are willing to finance the military operations of the opposition. Meanwhile, Louay Hussein, leader of the Building the Syrian State movement, an opposition body that operates within Syria, announced that he intends to organize a meeting between all opposition heads in Syria on the March 16 in order to begin a dialogue with the regime.

Hussein, an author an owner of a publishing company who was one of the first opposition figures to be arrested last year, announced on Sunday that his organization accepts the Chinese resolution on the condition that the regime halts the violence. The organization, whose public support is unknown, believes that recent developments cannot bring about a turnaround without the downfall of the regime, and this, in order to prevent the disintegration of the state, it is preferable to begin a dialogue with the regime over a period where a change in the structure of the regime can be prepared. Hussein estimates that expectations for change should be lowered in the near future, but a channel for discussions and especially for the high price that the regime has paid may very well convince it to treat the opposition’s demands with utmost seriousness.

Hussein and his organizaion’s positions clarify the differences between the “internal“ and “external“ oppositions, which are being lead by the Syrian National Council under the leadership of Bourhan Ghalioun. The council is not immune to criticism from the Free Syrian Army nor the Supreme Revolutionary Military Council, another military body under the command of brigadier-general Mustafa al-Sheikh. Against the backdrop of the differences and personal rivalries, and especially in light of the growing number of casualties – nearly 8,000 – the answer to the question of how long the rebellion will last remains unknown to both the opposition and the regime.

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