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Syria needs a negotiated end to the war

The politicians must look beyond violence to rebuild the nation that will include all its people

Gulf News

There cannot be a military end to the civil war in Syria. The current fighting has to position both sides so that they can find a political solution, which will not be easy. Even if the opposition wins the war outright, it will be a tragic mistake to exact revenge for the decades of woes inflicted on the Syrian people.

Although very understandable, that would be a tragic mistake since the victors in a civil war need to look ahead and plan for a new and inclusive Syria. They should not use their moment of victory to set up resentments and feuds which will come back to haunt them years later. Therefore, strange as it may sound, Muath Al Khatib, president of the Syrian National Coalition, and his colleagues need to reach out to the Alawite community and current officials in the regime to chalk out a way so that they can find a place in a new Syria after the war finishes. This also has a practical side to it, since a clear policy on how to deal with regime officials means that such people will be more ready to join the opposition.

The need for a political solution to the war has just been highlighted by former vice-president Farouq Al Sharaa, who told Al Akhbar newspaper that neither side can achieve outright victory. If the opposition forces do not destroy the regime, then they will be forced to talk and find an inclusive solution over the negotiating table. Al Sharaa was very clear that a faction-ridden opposition cannot claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, just as the current regime with its ideological army and its confrontational political party cannot achieve change without bringing in new partners.

The challenge is that just as the fighting gets to its fiercest in the end-game of the war, the politicians will need to look beyond violence to when they will rebuild Syria. New Syria needs to include all its people, otherwise it will face real danger of disintegration.