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Time to bite bullet in Syria

19 0 0
20.10.2019

By Carl Bildt

CANBERRA ― Recent events in Syria have naturally raised two questions: Who lost the country? And where might the international community go from here?

The first question is easier to answer. Looking back, Syria has probably been lost since the popular uprising in 2011. When President Bashar al-Assad's regime stubbornly refused any effort to resolve the matter peacefully, no outside power proved willing to intervene.

Instead, everyone hoped that a mix of sanctions, United Nations-led diplomacy, and halfhearted attempts to support a "moderate" opposition would eventually bring down the regime. It didn't work.

Fundamentalist forces gained political ground and territory, and others, including Iranian-backed militias and the Russian military after the fall of 2015, rushed to Assad's defense. Although the regime had long deprived the Kurds in northern Syria of most of their rights, it started making concessions to them when it came under pressure. As a result, Kurdish militias abstained from challenging Assad, which led much of the broader Syrian opposition to shun them.

After the Islamic State (ISIS) established its "caliphate" in Mosul and Raqqa in 2014 ― enabling it to strike even Baghdad ― there was an understandable rush to confront the terrorist threat. In Iraq, that task fell largely to Iranian-aligned Shia militias. But in Syria, the situation was more complicated.

The United States had no intention of sending........

© The Korea Times