The Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee’s (HNC) withdrawal from the Geneva talks is fundamentally a reflection of the Obama administration’s failure to reach a clear agreement with Putin regarding transitional arrangements, including both the nature of the administrative partitioning of Syria and matters unrelated to Syria but nonetheless incorporated into the Syria talks.
Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian author and pro-democracy activist currently based in Silver Spring, Maryland where he arrived with his family as political refugees in September 2005. His recent book, "The Irreverent Activist," a series of brief reflections written over two decades, is now available through Amazon. He also blogs at www.thedailydigestofglobaldelirium.com and is a regular contributor to Lawfare.
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A recent headline proclaimed “Syria's Alawites distance themselves from Assad.” The story refers to a document, reportedly authored by a number of Alawite clergymen, that seeks to both clarify and redefine the Alawite faith to make it more suitable for the modern era, while disassociating the Alawite community from “the ruling political power” in the country.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sudden decision to withdraw troops from Syria caught many by surprise, it was not the only dramatic development in Syria this week. Syria’s Kurds had a surprise of their own, or to be more specific, it was the Syrian branch of the PKK—known as the Kurdish Democratic Union Party or the PYD—the entity in control of the different Kurdish-majority cantons in northern Syria.
Unexpected but not surprising. This is indeed how I would describe the decision by Putin to withdraw his troops from Syria at this stage. The timing of the decision was surprising to most, including myself, but its nature is not really surprising. It has been never Vladimir Putin’s intention to help Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad regain control of all territory lost to rebel groups, or even to the Islamic State.
The Syria War, says Aaron David Miller, the distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, is "Not Obama’s Fault.” Instead, the war is primarily the work of Bashar Al-Assad, the president of Syria, who chose to kill his way out of a crisis rather than hold free elections. Arab countries, regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and international powers such as Russia and Iran, also bear much of the blame.
We are told that EU officials are only now discovering that most of the “refugees” whom they had welcomed into their countries are actually not refugees at all, but are, in fact, the long heralded and dreaded economic migrants: those hideous creatures whose eventual appearance onto the historical scene has long been predicted by certain sociologists and economists.
While I definitely cannot lay a claim to representing all Syrians, home or abroad, and while I definitely cannot represent the sentiments of pro-Assad Syrians—who, in fact, do exist—I am willing to wager that there are millions of them who will agree with the following view of President Barack Obama’s last state of the union address.