Syria: political solution seems ‘distant’ as conflict deadlocked

syria-conflict.jpg
Much of Syria has been reduced to rouble as global powers vie for
control over the region

Scottish News: Syria - political solution seems ‘distant’ as conflict deadlocked

by Christine Orr

Syrian vice president Farouq al-Sharaa admitted last week that the fighting in Syria is at a stalemate. He stated that the military and political desires and solutions are becoming more distant as each day the conflict continues.

He said, “With every passing day the political and military solutions are becoming more distant. We should be in a position defending the existence of Syria. We are not in a battle for an individual or a regime.”

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"The opposition cannot decisively settle the battle and what the security forces and army units are doing will not achieve a decisive settlement."

This statement came at the start of a week where opposition military groups successfully took control of more territory in Syria, including a reported six towns in central Hama. This puts pressure on President Assad from the north whilst groups move up towards Damascus from the south.

The past few weeks have seen these forces capture more military bases making western efforts to control the flow of weaponry less stable as weapons are obtained from these bases.

However, some groups still request anti-aircraft weapons and early warning systems against air strikes which have been Assad’s advantage so far in the conflict.

In light of recent development the UN has agreed to review the arms embargo. The embargo was recently renewed at the start of December but since then the new National Syria Coalition has formed and received worldwide political recognition from pro-western nations, altering the political situation within Syria.

Britain pushed for such a move as by arming the opposition it will allow for Assad to be overthrown more quickly, however, British Prime Minister David Cameron has faced criticism from his own parliament that this move will only increase fatalities.

Cameron has said: "A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Syria on our watch, with over 40,000 dead and millions in need of urgent assistance as a hard winter approaches.

"We continue to encourage political transition from the top and to support the opposition which is attempting to force a transition from below.

"This should include and will include looking at the arms embargo. We must now explore all options to support the opposition to enable greater support for the protection of civilians."

Britain is the second largest humanitarian aid donor and continues to support the UN in its new appeal for funds. However, until now it has restricted its military assistance. With Britain’s new stance on the arms embargo this looks set to change.

The UN has announced its “largest short-term humanitarian appeal ever” for $1.5bn in order to help the civilians in Syria over winter.

The violence in Syria is raging across the country and there are nearly no more safe areas where people can flee and find safety," Radhouane Nouicer, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, told a news briefing in Geneva.

The UN world food programme is currently providing rations for 1.5million people inside Syria but is facing increasing constraints such as lack of food, funds and fuel. $519.6mn is needed to meet the needs of those in Syria with another $1bn needed to assist those refugees in neighbouring countries.

Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR regional refugee coordinator said, "The grim situation inside Syria has a direct impact on refugee outflows to the neighbouring countries."

"I just came from the borders where I was shocked again one more time to hear the horrific stories that refugees tell us about their experiences - fleeing violence, fleeing insecurity. We're talking about women and children, entire villages that are uprooted and flee to safety to the neighbouring countries."

The UN has previously issued warnings that it expects the situation both in Syria and within refugee camps to worsen over the winter months with food shortages, sanitation and disease being the main concerns.

The civil war has so far claimed an estimated 40,000 lives since it started in March 2011.

A week after Russia’s top envoy to Syria stated that President Bashar al-Assad was losing control of the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has admitted that Russia acknowledges the need for change in Syria. However he expressed concerns that pushing Assad out of power could lead to more violence.

“We are not preoccupied that much with the fate of the Assad regime; we realize what's going on there and that the family has been in power for 40 years,” Mr Putin said. “Undoubtedly, there is a call for changes.

“We are worried about a different thing - what next? We simply don’t want the current opposition, having become the authorities, to start fighting the people who are the current authorities and become the opposition - and (we don’t want) this to go on forever.”

This statement is being reported by pro-western media as an attempt to distance them from the image that Russia unconditionally supports Assad’s government.

Previously, Russia and China have vetoed three votes by the UN Security Council to request Assad’s resignation as part of the peace protest and therefore are viewed as Assad allies in this conflict although both have separate geopolitical reasons for their stances.

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published this page in News 2012-12-27 15:01:07 +0000