Peace In Syria?

THE Russo-American accord on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, arrived at in Geneva last month, suggests three scenarios.
The immediate one is covered by the agreed Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons and the UN Security Council`s unanimous Resolution 2118 (2013) of Sept 27 endorsing it. But, in turn, it endorses the Geneva conference`s communiqué of June 2012 on a political settlement.
On the accord`s success depends the last scenario US renunciation of unilateralism in preference for a policy of conciliation. But, a political settlement of the Syrian crisis itself depends on US recourse to diplomacy rather than military might.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva: `We had talks with LakhdarBrahimi, where we discussed the way we can, as soon as possible … move from the deadlock …and the opposition, without any reservations, should participate … in the Geneva conference according to the communiqué of 2012.
Lakhdar Brahimi suc-ceeded Kofi Annan as the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League to Syria. Significantly, both were present at the Intercontinental in Geneva where the parleys were conducted. The agreed objective now is to reconvene the Geneva conference of the action group, chaired by the joint special envoy, comprising the foreign ministers of China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, Turkey, Iraq and Qatar besides the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy.
The action group`s communiqué of June 30, 2012 is annexed to the Security Council`s latest resolution of Sept 27. It identified steps by the parties to implement Kofi Annan`s six-point plan for a Syrian-led political process from a ceasefire to `free and fair multi-party elections` based on an agreed constitution that `would be subject to popular approval` A `transitional governing body` would be set up, `exercising full executive powers`. Here lies the rub: `It could include members of the present govern-ment and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.
This necessarily implies the consent of President Bashar al-Assad and his government. Indeed, the entire electorate plan depends for its success on the willing participation of all the principal elements, internal and external; President Assad, included.
This is what the US did not accept and the signs are that it has not abandoned its aim of regime change. There have been two major changes since the Geneva conference of June 2012; namely, the president`s position has improved militarily to a significant degree while the armed opposition has fragmented.
An extremist pro Al Qaeda force has come to the fore and begun attacking other groups and the minorities. Last year, the action group made a desperate plea to `urge the opposition to increase cohesion and to be in a position to ensure effective representative interlocutors towork on the basis of the six-point plan and the present communiqué`.
It did the opposite, putting a big question mark on its ability to serve as `effective representative interlocutors`. Yet on regime change the US remains as adamant as before.
Two unidentified `senior State Department officials` briefed the press at Geneva on Sept 14. One of them said: `The critical premise of the Geneva communiqué is that at our next meeting of the Geneva conference on Syria there is agreement between the US and Russia that the objective of that conference will be to move to a transitional governing body with full executive authority by mutual consent. And by the very nature of that statement, from our perspective, it is does not include Assad.` Unless it relents now the next conference is doomed to fail.
What has the American drive for regime change done to the region to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? The Independent reported last month: `Libya has plunged into its worst political andeconomic crisis since the defeat of Qadhafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato`s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention, which should be repeated in Syria …
Output of Libya`s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now.
At the root of this drive for regime change is the arrogant doctrine of American `exceptionalism` which warrants its role as a global sheriff.
Graham E. Fuller, a former vice-president of the CIA`s National Intelligence Council, is the author of a brilliant and erudite work A World Without Islam (2010) which reflects on the positive role which Islam has historically played. He recalls that once `it was Arab nationalism that was viewed as the predominantthreat to Western interests` to combat which it supported Islamist extremists. The US, in particular, never shrank from the regular overthrow of unfriendly regimes by covert operations or outright military intervention in country after country, in order tomaintain regimes favourable to it. The list is stunning. It spreads over five decades.
The accord on Syria made Fuller wonder whether the `enshrined foreign policy axioms may be quietly unravelling: American exceptionalism, American unilateralism, America as world policeman, moral commentator, global hegemon, and architect of a `world order`.
On the eve of the accord, Russia`s President Vladimir V. Putin addressed the American people directly in an article in The New York Times. Commenting on Barack Obama`s remarks to Congress earlier he wrote: `I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States` policy is `what makes America different.
It`s what makes us exceptional`. It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.` If this rationale for domination is discarded, the path for concilianon can lead to accords that go beyond Syria in the region.•