Thursday, November 26, 2015

Syrian Refugees: the Day Assad Leaves Syria I Will Return

This is kind of food for thought. Most Syrian refugees are fleeing Assad not ISIS first and foremost-not to say they are fond of ISIS.

But Assad is what drove the refugee problem in the first place.

In camps in Greece, Austria and now in the Netherlands, every Syrian I have interviewed has said they would have stayed at home, if at all possible. I ask Samer the question I ask everyone: “When the war ends, will you return to Syria or would you prefer to stay here in Europe?”

His answer is immediate:

“The day Assad leaves Syria, I will return, even if that is tomorrow — or today!”

I press him: “But if there is still fighting among rebels? What will be left, after years of war?”

Samer doesn’t budge.

“I will return.”

I remind him of the presence of ISIL in large swaths of the country, and he gives this serious consideration. “If Assad and ISIL leave, then I will return.”

This underscores that if we are able to get Russia into a coalition that ends the civil war, they will hav to be flexible on Assad. 

He really is the locus of the problem. He drove ISIS into Syria in the first place. 

According to David Ignatious, we are getting closer to a solution to the civil war. 

"Diplomatic negotiations on Syria got lost in the aftermath of the Paris attacks a week ago. But the talks have made surprising progress — and they may prove a crucial part of any successful strategy for combating terrorists from the Islamic State."

"Secretary of State John F. Kerry managed to gather all the major players — Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and the key European nations — in Vienna last weekend. Just getting them to the table is an accomplishment — and a move back from the Saudi-Iranian proxy war that has helped drive the Syrian nightmare."

"The next step would be a cease-fire between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the non-terrorist opposition. Such a truce would allow a multi-pronged assault on the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Here, too, there has been unexpected progress."

"A test of the delicate process will be whether it includes an Islamist opposition group called Ahrar al-Sham. This rebel group has been backed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and it has fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra against the regime and its Russia ally. But, interestingly, the United States and the Assad government both seem willing to allow Ahrar al-Sham into the non-extremist tent, so long as it agrees to accept a cease-fire."
“If you come to the party, then you’re on the guest list,” says one source who’s close to the Assad regime. A similar thought is expressed from the other side of the conflict by one Gulf official: “If there’s a cease-fire, then whoever continues to fight will be on the ‘red list.’

It will certainly solve some real problems if there is a cease-fire. That would be major progress. Hopefully they can keep Russia on the same page after what happened with Turkey.

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