What's on table in second Geneva summit?
The Geneva II Middle East peace conference, which will kick off on Jan. 22, 2014 in Montreux and resume in Geneva on Jan. 24, 2014, is a major upcoming event in the international arena.
Is this conference capable of shaping Syria's fate? Can it put an end to the conflicts in Syria? Can it pave the way for the transition government? The Geneva process has secured the support of many actors because it proposes to formulate a political solution to the crisis and it promotes political dialogue as the sole tool available. However, Geneva II is not expected to produce a final solution. Rather, it is considered an open-ended process. This conference is the most positive step in the search for an end to the Syrian civil war, but there are already efforts to organize Geneva III. So there is the risk of these Geneva meetings turning into inconclusive conference series, like a never-ending TV serial.

Cease-fire is the first step in any search for political solution. Big guns that agree to put a cease-fire into effect will be urged to exert pressures on the countries that are close to them. Two regional actors stand out in the Middle East: Iran and Saudi Arabia. Turkey is not perceived as a major regional actor. Rather, it is regarded as an actor that can be persuaded. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the actors that are hard to persuade. These actors that are hard to persuade will be forced to exert pressure on political and military groups in Syria, which they can influence. Thus, the plan is to put a cease-fire into effect through a number of efforts. As a first step for cease-fire, all combatants who came to Syria from outside must leave the country. Iran and the Russian Federation can do this. The combatants from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon may withdraw without a problem. The real problem is with the Salafi warriors. It appears that it will be very unlikely to convince Saudi Arabia to facilitate the withdrawal of these units.

The Syrian civil war is quickly destabilizing Lebanon. After being exposed to political and economic impacts of the Syrian civil war, Lebanon has become part of the civil war. Because about 1.5 million Syrian refugees continue to stay in Lebanon, this changes the country's demography. This leads to political turmoil given the fact that the country is delicately poised over a religious and sectarian divide. Sunni-Shiite as well as Sunni-Alawite clashes are on the rise in Tripoli, Beirut and Sidon. There were bomb attacks and they are likely to increase.

Refugee camps represent another issue regarding Syria. In particular, the camps in Jordan and Lebanon have become main sources of new recruits for Salafi groups. The camps in Turkey are subject to more serious versions of these problems, as these camps, located near the common border, can provide only meager facilities for their inhabitants. Poverty, helplessness and despair result in increased radicalization of refugees in these camps. It should be noted that the armed wing of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was established in the Palestinian refugee camps.

Four possible scenarios are voiced regarding the Syrian crisis. First, one of the sides may win the military victory. Second, the deadlock may continue. Third, the country may break up. De facto break-up of the country has already started. The regime, Kurds and the opposition have created their controlled zones. Now, the Druze are creating a fourth zone. In these de facto zones, each group is creating its own political, economic and social structures (assemblies, local administrations, schools, etc.). These structures may become more permanent over time and divisions may be perpetuated. Fourth, the chaos has bred hundreds of war lords as well as small radical groups. They control their small zones and create interest areas for themselves. They nurture conflicts. These groups have interests in instability. So they see stability and peace as a threat to their existence. It is feared that the chaotic environment will perpetuate. The Syrian National Coalition has lost its weight in the field. It is not represented in the field and it cannot control the field. It has run out of power. The Syrian armed opposition is now dominated by radical Salafi groups.

Political and diplomatic efforts are now the only way to solve the Syrian crisis. Therefore, Geneva conferences are the sole option for political efforts.

HASAN KANBOLAT (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2013-12-24 14:00:50
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