Annan's Failure |
Al Hayat - 16 July, 2012
Author: Mostafa Zein
Ever since it started, Kofi Annan's mission in Syria has seemed impossible. No one wants him to succeed, or expects him to achieve an end to the violence and to start the political process, neither the regime nor the opposition, nor even the countries that have agreed to his plan's six points – general points which each party has interpreted on the basis of its own position in the conflict. The Americans and their allies have interpreted them as a call for Assad to step down and an opportunity to increase pressure on the regime and its Russian and Chinese allies, since they have not yet reached the decision to make use of military force. The Russians, on the other hand, have found in them a temporary way out, one that would spare them the embarrassment of making use of the veto at the Security Council.
Everyone had been waiting for developments on the field in order to move on to a new phase, i.e. waiting for additional deaths, victims and destruction. Indeed, the latter represent a cheap price to pay in this game, and weeping over them represents a “humanitarian” duty that helps consecrate the defeat of Syria the state, not the regime. This explains the serious attempts that were made to turn North Lebanon into a buffer zone that would embrace opposition fighters, and to provoke the Syrian army into entering Lebanese soil, so as for such trespassing to become an additional pretext and justification for a military attack that is being prepared on the long term. Yet the impossibility of this, as well as the impossibility of turning Homs into a “liberated” area, has turned all of Syria’s cities into battlefronts in which the victor is defeated.
And because Annan knows perfectly well that the conflict over Syria is a geostrategic one in which the people are the fuel, and one in which the victor will emerge with the greatest victory those engaged in it have known since World War II, he realizes that none of them will facilitate his mission by refraining from arming and militarizing the opposition, or by pressuring the regime into conceding its stance. This is why he has tried not to abide by the clauses of the initiative, restricted to the Syrian interior, and broadened his contacts with influential countries, from Beijing to Baghdad, and from Washington to Tehran. Thus, his “forbidden” trip to the Iranian capital represented recognition on his part that his mission was coming to an end. Nevertheless, he entered into his reputable diplomatic record that he is not one to be tricked and that he knows the game of nations taking place in the Middle East. This is how he perceived it. As for the United States and its allies, they considered introducing Iran into this game through the gateway of Syria to represent recognition by the West as a whole of its role in the region, forcing the West to share influence with Iran. It would also signify a concession to Russia, which has been demanding for Tehran to play a role in reaching a settlement, and in this case would represent recognition of its complete defeat in the face of the alliance between Russia and Iran, and also China, in this struggle over a new world order that has begun to take shape starting from Syria. Within such a context, the Russians would not refuse to back down on their support of Assad. Indeed, this would be a mere detail, and they would have no qualms to see him leave if they were to ensure that the alternative would preserve their position.
Annan’s visit to Tehran was a message to everyone, signifying that he is aware of the dimensions of this game and of the impossibility of success under its conditions. In other words, it is meant to drive those concerned to declare the death of the initiative, which was stillborn from the start.