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Saturday , August 24 2019

Syria asks: What’s the cost of abandoning its allies?

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

THE foreign policy of the Sultanate of Oman is characterized by pragmatism and neutrality. It operates based on the principle of achieving regional peace. Hence, the visit of Omani Minister of Foreign Affairs Yousef bin Alawi to Damascus is perhaps seen as a preliminary step towards dialogue between Syria and the GCC countries, in addition to restoration of relations severed in 2011.

The questions begging to be asked in the observers’ circle is: Until when this Arab country will be a prey for groups backed by some countries like Iran and Russia? Is it practical to keep betting on the fall of its regime for the next several years? What could be the negative impact regionally?

Maybe, it is now time for Arabs, who supported groups hostile to the regime, to acknowledge their inability to oust it. The possibility of ousting the Syrian regime has evaporated since 2013 when countermine operations started, while the dates set for its leaders to be deposed did not materialize and were not based on clear political principles.

In fact, the entire fiasco appears to be based on local mosaic ignorance, so it is vital for Arabs to change their stances on this issue to prevent further complications.

Undoubtedly, the current crisis in Syria is mainly humanitarian in terms of the displaced and the migrants returning home.

Therefore, betting on prolonging the crisis or linking it with regional compromises actually weakens the Arab position because Syria is the cornerstone in those compromises and it cannot be ignored. In the same manner, it is impossible to overlook other parties directly involved in issues being raised to make major compromises in the Middle East.

In a nutshell, Arabs want to expel militias backed by Iran and its Revolutionary Guard; and perhaps, those backed by Russia. However, what will the countries demanding for such expulsion give in return; considering that at the early stages of the crisis, they supported the opposition armed groups by providing them with funds and weapons, and depended on them in their pursuit to depose the regime?

Consequently, in the opinion of Syrians; Moscow, Tehran and militias supported by Iran stood by their side during the war, while others were participating directly or indirectly. It is then difficult to abandon their allies unless the Arabs give guarantees equal to what both sides have lost. Before that, they should avoid political interference in Syria’s internal affairs.

Without a doubt, the first step towards showing goodwill and changing the Arabs’ political direction is to reinstate Syria to the Arab League; and then start a calm and pragmatic dialogue between all involved and influential parties.

Today, Syria needs about $400 billion for reconstruction. Certainly, some countries are ready to utilize this opportunity; while it is realistic to regard this as an Arab investment to rejuvenate the Arab economy which has been suffering from deep crisis due to civil war in various countries.

On this note, it is possible to read between the lines during the visit of Omani Foreign Affairs Minister Yousef bin Alawi who is implementing pragmatic Omani policies with high level of professionalism and a suitable time for solving problems.

He will probably find the best way to bridge the gap and unite Damascus and other Arab cities which are still unable to accept the regime’s resilience, its ability to free itself from the bottleneck and its stability. In other words, they cannot accept the fact that they lost the bet.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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