Le point sur le “i” in Syria.

To understand why the United States and Russia will have to find not only a common approach regarding Assad’s role in a postwar Syria but also to embrace a common strategic boldness, we will have to go further then March 2011, the civil uprising phase of the Syrian Civil War, I would say back to June 26, 1980, and the pivotal moment of Bashar Assad’s youth.

Back in the days and till present time, the Assad family was a member of the Alawite Muslim faith, a religious minority that have always been in clashes with a Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood- Sunni orientated.[1]

Until very recently policy makers and world-wide leaders, namely the US president – Barack Obama, the French president Francois Hollande, had an almost despondent attitude regarding the Assad regime.

Not many know that Bashar al Assad has a lifetime history in clinging on power, and that started from an early age, when at 14, him and his father Hafez, back then the president of the country, survived an assassination attempt, arranged by a Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. As a young leader to fallow, he learned that he can not do the same mistakes like his father. In order to ensure a unified Syria and an Alawite-dominating regime, he would have to be more comfortable with the West than his father. After all, he had graduated school in London. In years to come, he kept a close relation with the British diplomats, and the Italian government grant him its highest honor, the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. No matter the result of this 4 years’ war, Assad will cling once again to the lesson he learned 35 years ago: to survive is to win. So far, the UN leadership has taken a cautious approach, moving ahead with the peace agenda voicing concerns about either Assad will stay in power or not. However, external actors need to be extremely careful when embarking on any kind of action. Politics in Syria have a strong stench – almost patriotic undercurrent –and all Western and external interference will be long time conceived as undermining domestic position. Nevertheless, a policy of isolation or confrontation will not help the Syrian people in their efforts to change their society and state from within.

From a personal point of view, and given the systemic weakness and lack of experience of the overwhelming majority of opposition forces and politicians, a change of leadership in a postwar Syria would most likely lead to more domestic instability.


In the weekend edition of Financial Times, CSIS Trustee, Counselor and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski penned one of the most thoughtful speeches on the crisis in Syria, Russia’s involvement, and the need for a more active involvement on the part of the United States. Even though he is well known as a first-hand promoter of US hegemony in the world, this time his tone was a slightly different, rather encouraging for moderation, well balanced decisions and a clear–cut military cooperation between Russia and US.[2]

“The notion that we can create global order by the use of force has more limited application. It has to involve, if force has to be used, much more anticipated character of the eventual resolution of the problem. It cannot be undertaken simply because there is a need for response. That is a prescription for getting involved without end, as the problems breed new problems and so forth.”  Zbigniew Brzezinski

Both Russia and US will need to reconsider the position of the respective other when setting their foreign policy priorities. And not only that. For good or bad, both of them are destined to remain direct partners, interconnected through close political, military and strategically bonds. It will be politically short- sighted for either of them to neglect the importance of their cooperation.

[1] more information on the family background, please read – Syria-Iran, a history of effective cooperation? available online at http://www.jurnalul24.ro/syria-iran-history-effective-cooperation/




[2] John Kerry was addressing the United Nations Security Council hours after Russian jets hit targets in Syria – The United States does not oppose Russian air strikes in Syria if they target the Islamic State group, but Bashar al-Assad must step down, Secretary of State John Kerry – AFP news

To paraphrase Trotsky, western leaders may not have been interested in Mr. Putin, but Mr. Putin for sure is interested in them. – The Economist



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