Opinion and Editorial

Mediation can work

Filed on December 19, 2011

Itís a good sign that Syria is still being reached with a dialogue format. The initiative on the part of Baghdad to convince Damascus for a restrained approach ó and gradually making it follow the Arab League timeline for peace and tranquility is appreciated.

Irrespective of the fact whether Iraq enjoys the backing of the 22-member League, or the major Western powers, in knocking on the doors of the reigning Baath party, it goes without saying that it has enough geopolitical clout and conventional influence to make Damascus follow suit. Being an ally of Syria and with a special chord from Iran, Iraq possesses the potential to swing surprises.

Iraq and Lebanon are, perhaps, the only two Arab states that had begged to differ with the synopsis of marginalising Bashar Al Assad’s regime with sanctions, and had advocated a phased approach of carrot and sticks. How effective the point that Iraq had carried to Syria can make the difference remains to be seen, but there is a silver lining in the fact that Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki had sent the delegation over to Syria within hours after he returned from Washington. Whether the initiative is vetted by the US or not is a far guess, but the proposition that Iraq could make Syria scale down from the heights of instability would work wonders. Baghdad also is in need of reaching out to the opposition in exile so that a broad-based consensus on the future of Syria is attained at the earliest.

This mediation is an opportunity for Syria to return from the brink. The catastrophe is in need of being stemmed so that life limps back to normalcy in the civil war-torn strategic Arab country. Peace and stability in Syria is a must for the region, as fissures and extra-territorial influences could open a floodgate of discrepancies. Assad, whose regime was widely seen till the uprising as one of pro-consistency and moderation, has no choice but to oblige its neighbours and the regional Arab and Muslim states by putting a halt on military operations, wooing the opposition for a dialogue and announcing a timeline wherein the Baath party would relinquish power to a broader dispensation. The Alawite dynasty is under an obligation to uphold the culture and civilisational identity of Syria and safeguard it from any untoward geopolitical fragmentation. The diaspora on its doors and calls for military intervention are too serious to be ignored.

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