This 9-points plan (click here for Arabic version) represents my own little contribution, offered through the auspices of the Tharwa Foundation, to ongoing efforts aimed at resolving the conflict in y home-country: Syria. As a peace plan, it may not represent the early expectations of the revolutionaries, not to mention my own, or any one side of this conflict for that matter. But parties to the Syrian conflict have to prepare themselves for settling for much less than they initially wanted and sought. The struggle for democracy is a complicated long-term process that requires continuous readjustments. It might begin with a protest movement or a popular revolution, but it does not end with it. Politics, no matter how derided and cynical it seems sometimes, remains a necessity.
The complicated issues related to the shape of future Syria and the nature and scope of the transitional justice process are differed to a later stage, due to the intricate calculations involved on all sides. The current plan merely aims to enable parties to the conflict, domestic, regional and international, to agree on a longer-term truce (perhaps as long as 5 years), while they negotiate a final settlement that might involve talks and compromises regarding developments in other countries and even other regions of the world, not only Syria. In other words, the idea is to exchange a violent long-term conflict for a long-term political process, no matter how complicated it is bound to be, in order to ease the suffering of the Syrian people.
As prejudice and fear make objective facts irrelevant, how can we still manage our differences?
When has truth ever mattered where people’s prejudices were involved and their sense of security was on the line? Fear and prejudice trump all other considerations, and since they are perennial traits of our common humanity, the challenge is never about finding ways to eradicate them but to cope with their too logical consequence, namely: the irrelevance of truth, of facts which, no matter how objective they happen to be, often fail to alter our perceptions of unfolding events. Indeed, we are condemned forever to see and understand things differently. This is our curse and, on occasions, it may also be a blessing. But no matter how we view or choose to deal with it, this is always our destiny.
Conflict in the Middle East will have consequences far beyond its borders, especially in Europe.
This is a very important article by Nicholas Blanford and can help us predict the future patterns of conflict in the region. The key quote in it for me, the one that explains how “geopolitical concerns” are understood by Iran’s leaders at this stage and, consequently, how other players are bound to understand them as swell, is this:
In February 2014, Mehdi Taeb, a senior Iranian cleric, underlined the importance of Syria to Iran in stark terms, saying it is a “strategic province for us.” “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria,” he said. “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”
Iran will never give up its nuclear program. To them, having nuclear capabilities and a few warheads and missiles on the side is meant tom inoculate them against foreign dabbling. Iranian officials believe that, unlike Saudi Arabia whose breakup will come largely due to mismanagement on part of the ruling establishment, the only way the Iranian establishment they could face serious domestic troubles will come as a result of clandestine activities supported by Western governments. Having nuclear weapons will prevent that possibility, so they think, even as American drones and intelligence operations are busy destabilizing Pakistan, which has long been a nuclear power.