Syria is overrun with violence now, six-and-a-half months after the start of anti-government riots. Newspapers are front-paging reports on clashes with armed terrorist groups, army and police casualties, the murder of civilians, including Syrian university professors and physicians, explosions, acts of subversion, and seizures of big arms and ammunition shipments.
Not only the Syrian government but even some members of the opposition attribute the spread of armed confrontation to foreign interference, primarily by the United States.
Secretary General of the oppositional National Committee for the Unity of the Syrian Communist Party Qadri Jamil told RIA Novosti that “attempts to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime through street protests have failed. We are now witnessing a new stage in the operation against Syria.”
An illegal flow of arms and money is infiltrating Syrian borders, as are militants. Analysts believe that these militants, and not army deserters, form the core of the so-called armed resistance that is engineering attacks on Syrian law-enforcement. These are seasoned soldiers who have combat experience, having served in Iraq and other hot spots.
Many fear that the further escalation of violence that is increasingly taking on a religious character in a number of areas, including Syria’s third largest city of Homs, may develop into civil war.
The situation is further aggravated by the general political deadlock in Syria.
Qadri said that the regime, the opposition, and the streets were all stuck in a stalemate.
He explains that the regime is still unable to stop the street protests; however, the opposition has failed to use popular unrest to its benefit. Qadri said that the events had shown that the opposition’s maximalist and impractical goals of changing the regime were at odds with the real alignment of forces in the country.
As for the street protestors, they believed that the Internet slogan of doing away with the regime was realistic, but now they consider it an illusion. There are no indications that the regime will collapse. As a result, protestors have been disappointed and less active. In Qadri’s estimation, the number of demonstrators has gone down to 25%-30% of what it was several months ago.
“The foreign media, including Arab television networks, are trying to paint a completely different picture. They would like to show that protests are escalating but it doesn’t work,” he said.
Qadri believes the answer to this stalemate lies in political dialogue. The regime, the opposition, and the protestors must start dialogue that would help them reach a reasonable compromise. Any attempt by one side to impose its terms on the other will either draw out and deepen the crisis or cause the unfulfilled protest moods (that the authorities view as justified) to blow out again with a much greater force.
Anti-government riots in Syria began in the middle of March, in the city of Deraa in the south, and then spread to other regions. According to the UN, the number of casualties resulting from the clashes has exceeded 2,700. The Syrian government quotes the figure of 1,500 dead, including 800 law-enforcement officers. The opposition demands Assad’s resignation and political reforms. The United States and the European Union have urged Assad to step down.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti