The goal should be not to overthrow Al Assad but build a political system that will provide voice and vote to all Syrians and protect all minorities and sectsI find that opening sentence odd, since all minorities and sects were doing ok in secular Syria. The Christians were not being targeted and displaced until NATO's mercs came to town... There are some questionable assertions in this piece, but, what is compelling is the third way being suggest
Until now, two strategies have been pursued. Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general and Brahimi’s predecessor as special envoy, tried to negotiate a cease-fire and forge a consensus among the great and middle powers. That failed.
A second strategy has been to assist the fragmented opposition (mercs) to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Gulf states and Turkey have provided the weapons. Other governments, including the US, are helping. The opposition is much stronger now than when the uprising began 18 months ago and it can now attack the regime almost everywhere.(This claim is contradicted below)
The opposition is encouraged by international support and some seek foreign intervention to hasten Al Assad’s fall. That is unlikely to happen. The Syrian army remains strong enough to retake areas seized by the rebels (contradicting the claim of the opposition being stronger then ever and able to attack almost everywhere) and it is being bolstered by Iran and supported by Russia. Al Assad retains some support (vague, intentionally so) in the country and the security forces — led by family and his minority Alawite clan (vast majority of Syrian soldiers are Sunni- "The majority of the Syrian military are Sunni,"So that sentence is intentionally misleading ) — have remained a potent force, despite defections.
They are fighting hard because they fear that defeat will mean their annihilation. (speculation, the writer has no idea as to the real reason the Sunni majority military is fighting the terrorists. I would think it is because the NATO merc/terrorists are destroying their homes) Moreover, the regime fears that compromise could be construed as weakness.(?)
Moving on to the third option..
This is the time for a new goal and strategy and Brahimi is the man because it was he who had defined the terms that provided Lebanon an exit from its long civil war. The goal should not be to overthrow Al Assad, however desirable that might be to many. The goal should be to construct a path to a political system that provides voice and vote for all Syrians and institutional checks and balances to protect all minorities and sects.
What would the agreement look like?
At the start of the uprising, the Al Assad government had proposed reforms of election administration, political parties, media and nongovernmental organisations, among others. That is the right agenda, but the reforms were so flawed that no one took them seriously. (But the reforms were so flawed they weren't taken seriously then, but, now that is the right agenda?) Last year, representing the Carter Centre, Hrair Balian and I discussed with the Al Assad government an approach that would modify the reforms to make them credible and convincing to the democratic opposition.
The time might be ripe to place the weight of the international community behind a third option.Correct me if I am mistaken, but, does it appear as if the third way is the Assad reforms that took place way back? Are we looking at some sort of stalemate here? Bizarre?
Looking for some rational input here...