|There is a folktale about a lion that went on a hunting expedition with a fox and a wolf. They succeeded in catching a wild ox, a gazelle and a hare.|
The lion then instructed the wolf to divide the prey. When the wolf proposed that each should take what they hunted, that meant the ox would go to the lion, the gazelle to the wolf and the hare to the fox. However, the lion was not happy with such a division so it hit the wolf hard, killing it instantly. It then proposed the fox to divide the prey.
Being wary of a fate similar to that of the wolf, the fox proposed that the issue does not require any division. It told the lion, “The gazelle will be your dinner, the hare your breakfast and the ox your lunch”. The lion was happy with this division of prey.
The lion then asked the fox what inspired it to come up with this solution and it replied, “The lifeless body of the wolf lying beside me.”
This folktale applies to the current situation in Syria. Every time a glimpse of a solution appears in the horizon, the armed opposition factions run towards proposing the distribution of the spoils in the same manner that the wolf proposed to distribute the prey, which brings the issue back to square one.
This is because these factions hold on to their conditions, which have been unrealistic from the very beginning. This means the circle of conflict in Syria — violence, killings, displacement and destruction — will continue, and with it, the prospect of a solution becomes grimmer.
Today, after six years of civil war and deterioration of the country in various locations due to division of land which is done publicly among the international and regional forces involved in the Syrian conflict in addition to some terrorist groups, the upcoming dialogue in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana appears as a glimmer of hope for Syria to escape from the dark tunnel.
After several factions had expressed their initial approval to participate in this dialogue, each of these factions is now setting its agendas to serve their individual interests, while others continue to uphold the demands made by some regional parties, especially the one that suggested the current Syrian president and his regime to step down.
However, the stepping down of the regime and its leader has currently become impossible due to several factors, namely the change of balance force on the field, where the opposition factions are cornered in several scattered areas while the influence of DAESH and Nusra Front continue to increase.
The status quo in Syria renders major countries to recalculate their stance towards the authority of the current opposition leaders for the transitional period, fearing that the situation might turn into that of Somalia and Libya.
Undoubtedly, this situation reminds us of South Yemen shortly preceding the British withdrawal. Following Britain’s announcement of its impending withdrawal from Aden, some armed factions at that time hastily tried to impose themselves as the force in the new Yemeni balance under the pretext of resistance.
After the withdrawal, the vacuum was filled with communists, as at that time the Soviet Union had its hand on South Yemen. It is the same thing that Hezbollah in Lebanon did when it claimed that it liberated south of Lebanon after Israel had announced its withdrawal months before its actual withdrawal. Therefore, Lebanon was transformed into a semi-Iranian field controlled by Hassan Nasrallah.
Indeed, the situation in Syria is different to some extent, as the conflict is mainly between local forces, even though its end will lead to cementing Iranian-Russian occupation, and perhaps Turkey. This will happen as long as those factions continue to practice the methods of the wolf – they neither ousted Al-Assad even after six years of war nor got what they hunted down or learnt from the fox’s wisdom.
Therefore, they ought to accept the Astana dialogue, which if it succeeds, will undoubtedly bring to an end the most horrific misery of Syria in modern history.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times