What is the Russian initiative? What is its nature and limits? What commonalities does it share with “initiatives” and ideas that are being actively promoted in the regional and international scenes? And what had Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told the Russian presidential envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov, in their meeting earlier this month?
The Russian initiative seems vague. Perhaps, this ambiguity is intended, so that to give the participants in the dialogue a chance to get off the trees they had climbed.
Both the “Coordinating body” and “People’s Will Party” emphasize on «Geneva 1» reference, despite the fact that time overcame it.
For its part, the opposition’s coalition confirms that there is no solution, but the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.
However, everyone knows that this demand is out of realistic circulation. This condition is posed by the Saudis with a list of temptations, including the acceptance of all existing rule formulas in Syria: constitutionally, politically, militarily and security, but with having al-Assad step down.
In contrast, Cairo, Amman and other Gulf capitals are trading more realistic ideas: to recognize al-Assad rule but with handing some of his powers to a National unity government, even without touching the powers of defense, security and foreign affairs.
No end to the proposals being circulated as a political solution to the Syrian crisis; the possibilities are mixed with desires and analyzes. Nevertheless, something common emerged to the surface: the parties are moving to a political solution in 2015, and that they are looking to the context of the Russian initiative , as a suitable area for negotiation.
Based on this, the parties hope to drag Moscow towards concessions to reach a solution, especially as the sanctions and [economic] decline [expected and artificial], oil prices, the Ukrainian crisis, are all factors that pressure Russia and might lure it to accept a three-quarters victory in Syria.
In the Russian foreign policy triangle, [President Vladimir Putin, FM Minister Sergei Lavrov and his deputy Mikhail Bogdanov], there appears differences in the tone of proposing the Russian thesis on Syria.
Putin, who, in the end sets out the path, is firm not only in supporting the Syrian regime, but also in his clear recognition that al-Assad is the legitimate president, who took over his powers after credible elections, that showed that he enjoys the majority of Syrian support.
This officially announced position resolves every possible controversy over the roof of the Russian initiative.
However, the parties that contact Lavrov and Bogdanov, may explain the diplomatic language of Lavrov or Bogdanov’s negotiating suggestions with various explanations, each in line with his interests and vision.
Among those revelations are things related to “testing the pulse”, acknowledging the borders as well as the possible lines within the axis of resistance.
In spite of the growing alliance between Moscow and Tehran, and their discussions regarding the support of Damascus, economically and militarily, and the concerns of a political solution in Syria; Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has become, for the Russians, the side that gives them the honest truth, without shades.
Behind this are three reasons that made the Russians restore to Nasrallah: First, the dialogue with Nasrallah is a debate with a resistance and not a diplomatic man. It is a talk with a politician who had accumulated a history of high credibility. Secondly, Nasrallah is a common ally of Damascus and Tehran, and he, in particular, owns the password. Thirdly, Hizbullah is a major force in the war against terror in Iraq and Syria, as well as in Lebanon. This makes him a heavy partner in any future vision for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
In the fifth of this month, Sayyed Nasrallah received Bogdanov, who had toured the area, to be introduced to the positions and visions. The Russian diplomat found it appropriate to put up all in his sleeves at Hizbullah Secretary General’s table, including what he had personally heard, and the Russians heard about all the positions from President al-Assad.
Away from any ambiguity, the Resistance leader clarified to Bogdanov, that we are fighting a battle against terrorism, in defense of Syria, the Syrian state and its strategic options.
However, we are, equally «fighting a battle for the President». There is no solution except under the roof of the President. President al-Assad is a red line.
Why? What would harm the resistance axis, and the Syrian state in its heart, if things went to maintain «everything», with shortening the mandate of the President?
No. First, President Bashar al-Assad, has always been a resistant leader. However, today, after four years of war, he become a symbol for the resistance and its axis, a symbol of great sentimental value, that cannot be placed, absolutely, in any political equation.
Secondly, President al-Assad, as a person, a symbol, and orientations, represent a summary of the Syrian state. He is the commander, who is capable of managing Syria’s war against terrorism. Thirdly, al-Assad is the title of Syria’s unity, and he can’t be referred to as belonging to a certain religious, sectarian, regional, or even a political party. Thus, it is not acceptable, therefore, to discuss any of these qualities in relation to the President and the political solution in Syria.
Fourth, in the experience, in which he fought the American occupation of Iraq in 2003 and Washington’s threat to him with the armies of aggression, in Iraq’s fate if he doesn’t give up the strategy of confronting the West and “Israel”, in his insistence on relations with Iran, his support to the Arab resistance, his response to the boycott and siege since 2005, and his position in face of the “Israeli” aggression on Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009, and finally in his leadership to the Syrian war on terrorism since 2011; in all this experience, al-Assad grabbed his position, not as the head of the Syrian Arab Republic only, but to the resistance forces and their audiences in the region.
Bogdanov came out of the meeting with Sayyed Nasrallah, having the Russian initiative crystalized in three red lines: the Syrian state and its strategic options, the Syrian Arab Army, and President Bashar al-Assad.
Under these three ceilings, Moscow offered to the Syrians, a dialogue table on everything else. An unconditional dialogue, with no references: neither «Geneva 1» nor something else, nor any proposals affecting those ceilings or constitute a challenge to the sovereignty of Syria or an interference in its affairs.
The initiative is, first and last, a «Russian need» for the continuation of the political, economic, and defense escalating support to which the Kremlin has been committed to since 2011. Nothing more. This does not mean that the national parties are excluded. On contrary, they are needed, with their trends and programs, to consolidate the unity of Syrians in the face of terrorism and to advance in the reconstruction process.
Meanwhile, with the decline of forces on the ground for the benefit of terrorist organizations, a reconciliation with the parties and intellectuals, with all its importance, isn’t considered to have a realistic content in the field.
What remains us what has al-Assad defined by two tracks: first, the fight against terrorism until it is eradicated, and the second is the reconciliations with Syrian insurgents to avoid more bloodshed and to unify efforts in the first track. Of course, the Syrian -Syrian dialogue, would be critical as a third pathway, that promotes the national and social Syrian forces’ unity, towards overcoming the crisis and emerging triumph in the war.