The International Crisis Group (ICG) most recent middle east policy briefing No 31 on Syria, titled “Uncharted Waters: Thinking Through Syria’s Dynamics” is a demonstration of the brilliance of Peter Harling, the ICG’s Project Director, for Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. The report, linked above is a must read by anyone interested or involved even if remotely to the Syrian revolution. Below, i will only present a part of the report’s conclusion, and hope that all of us get the chance to read it and comment on it. I received it yesterday, but was not able to view my email until now.
Conclusion (part of it), please read the full report here
That the current crisis and future transition present enormous risks is not a reason to defend a regime that offers no solution and whose sole strategy appears to be to create greater hazards still. Optimally, this would be the time for third-party mediation leading to a negotiated transition. Yet, there is little sign of that either. The recent Arab League initiative rightly insisted that the regime end its attacks against peaceful protesters. But popular demonstrations are precisely what the regime fears most, making such an undertaking virtually unthinkable. The League has demanded – and the regime in principle accepted – the dispatch of foreign observers. But the authorities have far more to hide than to put on display; they will acquiesce only to the extent outsiders corroborate the existence of armed groups and only insofar as they are prevented from documenting security forces’ crimes. The regime also has pledged to hold municipal elections and reform the constitution, but neither step comes close to matching the depth of the crisis.
Even rhetorically, the regime is not suggesting willingness to compromise. Al-Dunia, its semi-official television station, is more belligerent than ever. In his latest interview, Assad flatly denied that civilians had been shot by the security services; by his count, the sum total of 619 victims comprised protesters accidentally killed in crossfire with armed gangs; individuals targeted by sectarian attacks; and loyalists. Meanwhile, conservative estimates put the number of fatalities at 3,500 (excluding members of the security services and army), most as a result of regime violence.