On 21 August 2013, an estimated 1,400 people died in a poison gas attack in the Suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus. As a result, the United States and its allies were faced with the decision of whether to use direct military intervention in Syria, 30 months after the outbreak of the uprising and two years after it had escalated into bloody civil war.
An external military strike against the Syrian regime would have permanently shifted the complex nexus of local, regional and international actors and interests in Syria. Such an action would have been unlikely to resolve the conflict, but would have quite possibly exacerbated it.
In the third year of the uprising in Syria, there is no sign of a solution. Neither the regime nor the broad spectrum of opposition forces appears capable of winning this destructive power struggle. There are strong indications that there will (almost) only be losers in the end.
There are numerous external actors involved in the Syrian conflict who financially, diplomatically and militarily support either the regime or the various Opposition camps. This is what saw the initial insurrection turn into a civil war; and the civil war, into a proxy war. Today, Syria is center stage of the struggle for the reconfiguration of the Middle East after the Arab Spring.
An alternative to military intervention would be to exert political pressure on the participants to resolve their conflict through nonmilitary means and to develop a negotiated power-sharing arrangement.
The accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 October 2013 has presented an opportunity for further negotiated solutions by bringing the previously isolated Bashar al-Assad regime back to the international negotiating table. Now, regional and international actors must push both the regime and the opposition to engage in serious talks. Achieving this in the context of Geneva II negotiations (for which have been scheduled for 22 January 2014) may be unrealistic considering the extensive preconditions of both sides. Without a negotiated compromise, however, the most likely outcome will be regional conflagration.
Syria: Power Sharing as an Alternative to Regional Conflagration, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 09, December, urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-367679(2013),
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