Decentralization is the only way to preserve Syria

Russia appears to be in favor of resolving the Syrian conflict through decentralization, which will see Damascus transfer some of its powers to local authorities, said Dr. Emre Ersen, calling this plan “the only way” to prevent the war-torn country from falling apart.

“Currently Russia is trying to present itself as a mediator between different groups fighting in Syria. In order to do that it should appeal to non-Arab ethnic groups in the country, such as the Kurds or the Turkmen,” he explained.

Dr. Emre Ersen, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations of Marmara University, was commenting on a draft Syrian constitution, prepared in part by Russian experts. The document was presented to representatives of the armed opposition during the peace talks which were held in Astana, Kazakhstan last week.

The draft suggests among other things removing the word “Arab” from the official name of Syria.

“I think that President Bashar al-Assad is … aware of what he might lose as a result of this constitution. But I think that he is OK with it because we need to keep in mind that the only way to keep Syria together … is to try to create a new republic instead of the Arab republic which was dominated by the Arabs. “I  think that for Assad the best way to survive is to achieve the decentralization in the country,” the analyst said.

Dr. Emre Ersen further said that the Astana peace talks appeared to have been “successful” mainly because they brought representatives of Damascus and the opposition to the same table.

The political analyst praised Moscow, Ankara and Tehran for their efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis, adding that the Syrian ceasefire, brokered by the three countries, has been the key achievement in this process. The truce announced in late December has largely held despite violations, which both sides blame on each other.

“Neither the US, nor the EU have so far been able to play a meaningful military role” in the embattled country, he said, adding that this might change under the Trump administration.

The Obama administration occasionally indicated that it was ready to cooperate with Russia on fighting terrorist groups tearing apart Syria and the Middle East, but failed to deliver on these pledges. For his part, US President Donald Trump appears to be ready to boost anti-ISIS efforts with Moscow.

“Trump seems to be much more willing to work together with Russia in order to fight ISIS in the region. I think this is an indication that Washington may play a greater role” in resolving the Syrian crisis,” the political analyst said.

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