The Islamic State and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The war in Syria, which has already caused 215,000 deaths, has entered its fifth year. Can it be stopped? How can we stop it? These questions found their response after the declaration of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who said, “We have to negotiate [with Assad] in the end” to put an end to the conflict. This explanation makes sense, even if the State Department later downplayed its impact.

Kerry’s statement induced reactions from President Bashar Assad, as well as from America’s allies – notably France and Turkey. The Syrian president cautiously welcomed the declaration of the American diplomat, saying, “We keep hearing such comments, but we have to wait for action.” He has put the ball back in his enemies’ court.

That makes sense if you remember the fact that it was Western countries, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies that participated in transforming a protest against the Syrian regime into a “revolution” (in the context of the so-called “Arab Spring”), which has become an atrocious massacre over the years, although neither the Syrian regime nor the countries that armed and financed the Syrian rebels – strategic allies of the Nusra Front jihadi (the Syrian wing of al-Qaida) and of the Islamic State – are innocent in the tragedy that has struck Syria and which has ruined the land and displaced half of the population (12 million people). Also, to finally admit that it’s necessary to start talks with the power of Damascus in order to shorten the suffering of the Syrian people is a positive step that only those blinded by hate and a vengeful spirit don’t want to take.

That is the case of the diplomatic leaders of France, Laurent Fabius, and Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who seem to be trying to outbid each other as hardliners. The former states that Assad “cannot form part of a negotiated settlement,” while the latter thinks it “useless” to have talks with Damascus. Of course, it is not the French or Turkish people that have to endure the invasion of foreign armies on their respective territories (the Pentagon estimates that 25,000 foreigners of nearly 80 nationalities fight in the jihadi ranks) or see their devastated countries become a battlefield between international entities, destroyed by war. The contrast is unbelievable, especially the emotion and fear shown by French officials upon seeing the 300 to 500 French who left to fight in Syria return to the Hexagon.* And Paris has decided to do everything to prevent these French “jihadi” from returning. What is acceptable for Paris – defending its safety and stability – is evidently not for Damascus, which must (if we are to believe Fabius) accept edicts from Paris, London or Washington.

France, the Quai d’Orsay** indicated Monday, wants a “political settlement negotiated between different Syrian parties, but without the participation of Bashar Assad.” Is France unaware (that’s one way of saying it) that as in all wars, talks to end the crisis can only happen with the enemy and not otherwise, notwithstanding of course the charges against the Syrian president? The French foreign ministry adds, “Our objective is a political settlement negotiated between different Syrian parties and leading to a united government.” To what Syrian parties are they referring? On the battlefield currently there are the Syrian rebellion, supported by the West and particularly France; the jihadi and their army of mercenaries; and the regime. Who will negotiate the settlement if, according to Paris, the Damascus regime is excluded?

The Americans, who are more pragmatic, have faced the obvious. In the current context, a military victory on the part of the rebellion (one that removes Bashar Assad from office) is illusory – the Syrian regime is inevitable in any peace process in Syria. The foreign minister of Turkey, who thinks it “useless” to negotiate with Damascus, interprets his prophecies as reality, almost as though he is unaware of the geopolitical situation in Syria, where his country has played a leading role (with the Gulf monarchies) in the advent of Islamic terrorism. The jihadi’s arms and funding pass through Turkey, and their training is done at a base there. It’s comical that Çavuşoğlu, whose country was behind the increase in power of Islamic terrorism in Syria, has come to the conclusion that there are “two problems to solve in Syria:” “destroy the Islamic State group,” he says, and remove Assad “to pave the way for a political transition in Syria.” *** Wake up, Minister, the Ottoman Empire no longer exists!

*Editor’s Note: The location of metropolitan France in Europe, due to its shape, is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone (“the Hexagon”).

** Translator’s Note: The Quai d’Orsay is used as a metonym for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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