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Will Syria Last As A Unified Country?

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, September 24

If you ask each one of the stakeholders currently involved in the Syrian civil war—the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or even Iran—what their opinion of the situation is, you will quickly learn that all of these players would like the country to remain a united geographic entity with its current borders. Where these countries diverge dramatically, however, is in their visions of the future domestic reality in Syria. Turkey wants to weaken the Kurdish population; the Americans want to destroy ISIS; Israel wants to curb Iran and Hizbullah; and Jordan wants to stop the flow of refugees into its territory. Under these conditions, it seems highly unlikely that Syria will be able to maintain its unity as a state. Adding to the complexity is Bashar al-Assad’s total unwillingness to compromise, even though the Syrian opposition capitulated to his demands and handed him back free rein over the country. With each one of the players pulling Syria in its own direction, the nation will simply disintegrate. The unfortunate reality is that the Syrian conflict ended without clear winners. What this means is that no single power can force its will upon the others: Iranian troops will continue to be stationed in Syria, Israel will continue enforcing a buffer zone on its border, and Russia will maintain its forces on the ground and in the air. Bashar al-Assad’s single policy is to maintain his rule, and he will likely do so even at the cost of losing parts of Syria. –Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed