Syria: Towards a Political Solution

An end to the bloodshed may necessitate talks with the regime

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As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the urgency of finding a political solution is increasing. Kofi Annan has launched this process, but more effort will be needed to unify the international community to exert pressure on Bashar al-Assad.

In this ECFR policy memo Julien Barnes-Dacey proposes a political strategy that gives Moscow the lead role in formulating a ceasefire, and accedes to its demand that negotiations with the regime not be preconditioned on Assad’s demise:

  • It is also increasingly apparent that a political resolution for the crisis in Syria is, at minimum, dependent on Russian acquiescence. Without pressure from Moscow, the regime will neither relent in its use of violence nor enter into a political process. Thus engaging with Russia may be the only way of halting the bloodshed and stopping Syria from falling into a deep and prolonged civil war.
  • The newly appointed UN-Arab League representative to Syria, Kofi Annan, should therefore begin a political process that gives Russia a lead role and includes direct negotiations with the regime despite the horrific nature of its crimes.
  • An international contact group that includes representatives of Russia, the regime and the opposition, as well Syria’s neighbours, should meet in order to set out the parameters for a ceasefire.
  • The international response should now be based on three strategic aims: Establishing an international consensus to end the violence, delinking the crisis from broader strategic aims and empowering the political opposition in Syria.

The intended aim of these different measures is to stop the violence and lay the groundwork for a subsequent political transition process.

The author of the memo, Julien Barnes-Dacey is available for comment and analysis on the crisis in Syria:

[email protected]; Tel: +44 (0) 2072276875; Mobile: +44 (0) 7584638614; twitter:@jbdacey

Click here to visit the ECFR’s Middle East & North Africa Programme.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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