Syria’s president, still unwilling to step aside in any form currently, insists on a national unity government and not a transitional power that would see him step down, the latter widely viewed as a possible way forward including by the US and Russia.
During an interview with Russia’s RIA Novosti News Agency, Bashar al Assad said that political transition means moving from one constitution to another, that this transitional period should continue under the present constitution (i.e. his presidency), then move to the next constitution after it is voted on by the Syrian people.
He added that ‘Neither the Syrian constitution, nor the constitution of any other country in the world includes anything that is called a transitional body of power. It’s illogical and unconstitutional.’
This would mean that Bashar al Assad would remain in power until free and fair elections could take place within Syria which may then give him the opportunity of sharing power with opposition representatives. This would ensure he still played a part in the future governance of Syria, even if it is shared unity government.
It is widely agreed, including by both the US and Russia, that a transitional period would need to take place resulting in Bashar al Assad stepping down. Given the cost of the conflict in both lives lost, casualties, displaced civilians and refugees, physical damage to property and infrastructure, it seems the only logical option to help facilitate even a chance of a long lasting solution.
Actions, both politically and militarily, by all sides involved in the conflict have facilitated the chaos seen today in Syria, it is not just that of Bashar al Assad and the Syrian government alone. This includes external proxy nations influencing actions on the ground to further both their national and strategic interests, also at the cost of the civilian population.
Many large groups and coalitions within the armed opposition to Assad’s government are fundamentalist Sunni Islamic groups. They do not wish to see Syria becoming a secular, Western style democratic state, despite this being the reason for support of the opposition by Western countries from day one of the conflict.
With all this said, it would appear that the large, fundamentalist aspects of the opposition will need to be addressed prior to any elections and Bashar al Aassad will need to step down if the Western view of Syria’s democratic future has any chance of becoming a reality.
None of which seems likely in the near future.
The true depth and influence of fundamentalist groups and coalitions involved in the opposition to the Assad government is something that has been brushed over by Western politicians and main stream media news outlets throughout the Syrian conflict.
At some point in the future this will need to be accepted and addressed by Western governments, likewise Bashar al Assad will need to accept that too much has gone before, regardless of blame and will need to step down with no ambitions of re-running for the presidency.
If both of these points are not achieved then it seems certain Syria will continue to be a failed state and in perpetual conflict for years to come.