Increasing Pessimism Over U.N. Approach to Syria
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed earlier this week, “Anyone who thinks that the armed opposition is capable of [winning] the military battle is very mistaken,’” referring to the conflict in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin on the other hand, suggested that Assad is losing power and re-iterated Russia’s position that “only a negotiated agreement could ‘prevent a breakup of the country and an endless civil war.’” Putin drew parallels to Libya where he asserted that “intervention by…Western nations had caused more harm than good” given Libya’s continuing instability. Putin expressed concern that the Assad government and the Syrian opposition would just trade places, “with the rebels in power but with the fighting unabated.”
The U.N.’s special commission on Syria released a new report on December 20 that stated the conflict between government forces and the opposition had “become overtly sectarian in nature.” The report also noted that minority groups in the country have been pulled into the conflict and that they are being forced to take sides along sectarian lines; which are predominantly split between the pro-government Alawite community and the anti-government majority Sunni community. Accounts of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law are also addressed in the report.
A recent article in Foreign Policy by Colum Lynch spoke of “mounting concern” that Assad’s overthrow would “trigger the dissolution of the Syrian state…generating the kind of sectarian violence and chaos” that was seen in Iraq in 2003, and that a U.N. force would not be able to address such a crisis. The concerns were further vindicated in U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s year end press conference when he stated: “We do not see any prospect of any end of violence or any prospect of political dialogue to start.” Christopher Phillips of Chatham House also released a December 2012 briefing paper outlining the effects of Syrian conflict on Turkey, and how Turkey has changed its foreign policy in support of Assad’s overthrow.