Iraqi Turkmen forces patrol a checkpoint in the northern city of Tuz Khurmatu. The Syrian conflict has destabilised two countries and shows no signs of ending (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)
Iraqi Turkmen forces patrol a checkpoint in the northern city of Tuz Khurmatu. The Syrian conflict has destabilised two countries and shows no signs of ending (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

Step by step, we are sleepwalking back to Assad's Syria



As the US election continues its twists and turns, foreign policy only rarely rears it head. This week is an exception, for two reasons: one, the US president Barack Obama is bidding farewell to the Gulf and to Europe. And two, Hillary Clinton, hoping to succeed Mr Obama, has been burnishing her foreign policy credentials.

She has done this by agreeing to a long profile in The New York Times on her hawkish policy positions, most of which appear to be seeking to put some clear blue water between her and Mr Obama, particularly on Syria, and repeating her call for a no-fly zone in the north of the country.

Mrs Clinton, of the four candidates most likely to be president (Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz), has the most foreign policy experience. And yet, because of the experience of being a woman in a US presidential campaign, she has to fight to have her record remembered. Male candidates – we’re looking at you, Donald – can merely bluster about how tough they will be in office; Hillary has to show her work.

To that end, Mrs Clinton has returned to the theme of enforcing a no-fly zone, an idea mooted by many world leaders, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan among them – but an idea, crucially, ruled out by Mr Obama.

For Mrs Clinton, a no-fly zone is both smart and dangerous politics.

Smart because it emphasises her hawkish credentials against Mr Obama, who has done little even as the Syrian conflict has raged out of control, and her foreign policy experience against the Republican contenders (both of whom have made only vague declarations of military force against ISIL).

But it is also dangerous, because of the legacy of the Iraq war and Mrs Clinton’s role in it. A viral video in the Middle East these days juxtaposes her laughing to an interviewer about the “hard choices” of Iraq with video of the devastating consequences that war had for Iraqis: burnt bodies, massacres, raped women. The message is unmistakable: the hardship was borne by the Iraqis, who were given no choice in the invasion.

The same criticism would be made of any intervention in Syria. It would be too difficult, too bloody, too politically charged. Enforcing a no-fly zone would be exceptionally difficult for Mr Obama in the final months of his presidency. For Mrs Clinton, in the first months of hers, it would be almost impossible, and would suck the oxygen out of US politics for months.

Yet even so, Mrs Clinton’s suggestion should be considered. The “realist” position on Syria is that it is too hard, too big a task to succeed.

The Russians have outmanoeuvre the West; the rebels are too divided and too radical; and ISIL needs to be the focus for now, which means working with the Assad regime.

The realist position, as taken by those negotiating with the regime, is that the “peace process” is the only option. This is the same peace process that led to the Assad regime retaking all of Aleppo. The same process that has seen Russian jets pound anti-Assad rebels. The same process that has all but guaranteed that Bashar Al Assad will remain president of Syria, even after five years of bloodshed. The same peace process that is, as I write, falling apart.

It should be obvious that there is no realist position on Syria. There are only unrealistic options. Perhaps it is unrealistic to imagine a no-fly zone in Syria – but it is certainly unrealistic to imagine that Mr Al Assad could re-establish control over Syria without mass bloodshed, torture and destruction. It is unrealistic to imagine that Syrians, after years of exile, would return to a country ruled by the man who through violence exiled them.

And it is certainly unrealistic to imagine that Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq – to say nothing of European countries – could see their populations swell with Syrian refugees and continue as before.

Yes, a no-fly zone would be risky. More troops on the ground would be risky. Taking on Russian jets would be risky. But there are risks every way. The realist strategy is simply the status quo risk, pushing the risk out into the future and spreading it across time.

Doing nothing differently is also a risk, and in many ways the most substantial one. As it stands, the Syrian conflict has dragged on for five years – and could easily drag on in some form for another five. That scenario, while realistic, is apocalyptic for the Middle East and Europe. The costs of doing nothing are astronomical.

That’s why Mrs Clinton’s suggestion of a no-fly zone is worth considering. It shifts the debate back on to what can actively be done by the international community. Otherwise, by seeking the passivity of this peace process, we are merely sleepwalking back to the status quo – sleepwalking back to a Syria ruled by Bashar Al Assad’s iron fist. That is not a realist position. For Syrians, it is an unrealistic nightmare.

falyafai@thenational.ae

On Twitter: @FaisalAlYafai

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

SPEC SHEET: NOTHING PHONE (2)

Display: 6.7” LPTO Amoled, 2412 x 1080, 394ppi, HDR10+, Corning Gorilla Glass

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 8/12GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: Android 13, Nothing OS 2

Main camera: Dual 50MP wide, f/1.9 + 50MP ultrawide, f/2.2; OIS, auto-focus

Main camera video: 4K @ 30/60fps, 1080p @ 30/60fps; live HDR, OIS

Front camera: 32MP wide, f/2.5, HDR

Front camera video: Full-HD @ 30fps

Battery: 4700mAh; full charge in 55m w/ 45w charger; Qi wireless, dual charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Google Pay)

Biometrics: Fingerprint, face unlock

I/O: USB-C

Durability: IP54, limited protection

Cards: Dual-nano SIM

Colours: Dark grey, white

In the box: Nothing Phone (2), USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price (UAE): Dh2,499 (12GB/256GB) / Dh2,799 (12GB/512GB)

SPECS

Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder petrol (V Class); electric motor with 60kW or 90kW powerpack (EQV)
Power: 233hp (V Class, best option); 204hp (EQV, best option)
Torque: 350Nm (V Class, best option); TBA (EQV)
On sale: Mid-2024
Price: TBA

2017 RESULTS: FRENCH VOTERS IN UK

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Emmanuel Macron: 51.1%
Francois Fillon: 24.2%
Jean-Luc Melenchon: 11.8%
Benoit Hamon: 7.0%
Marine Le Pen: 2.9%

Second round
Emmanuel Macron: 95.1%
Marine Le Pen: 4.9%

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Born in Spain, Tribulietx took sole charge of Auckland in 2010 and has gone on to lead the club to 14 trophies, including seven successive Oceania Champions League crowns. Has been tipped for the vacant New Zealand national team job following Anthony Hudson's resignation last month. Had previously been considered for the role. 

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

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Company name: HyperPay

Started: 2014

Founder: Muhannad Ebwini

Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Industry: FinTech

Funding size: $55m

Investors: AB Ventures, Amwal Capital, INet, Mada VC, Mastercard, SVC

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Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0
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Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

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Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
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Investment stage: Series A
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Martin Amis,
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Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

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6pm: Abu Dhabi Land Forces - Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,200m
6.35pm: Dubai Naval Forces - Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m
7.10pm: Sharjah Air Force - Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,200m
7.45pm: Ajman Presidential Guard - Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 1,200m
8.20pm: Dubai Creek Mile – Listed (TB) Dh132,500 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm: Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah Joint Aviation - Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 1,600m
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Player of the Century, 2001-2020: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Ronaldinho

Coach of the Century, 2001-2020: Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Jose Mourinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid), Sir Alex Ferguson

Club of the Century, 2001-2020: Al Ahly (Egypt), Bayern Munich (Germany), Barcelona (Spain), Real Madrid (Spain)

Player of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Club of the Year: Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Real Madrid

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Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

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If you go

Flights

Emirates flies from Dubai to Phnom Penh with a stop in Yangon from Dh3,075, and Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to Phnom Penh with its partner Bangkok Airlines from Dh2,763. These trips take about nine hours each and both include taxes. From there, a road transfer takes at least four hours; airlines including KC Airlines (www.kcairlines.com) offer quick connecting flights from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville from about $100 (Dh367) return including taxes. Air Asia, Malindo Air and Malaysian Airlines fly direct from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville from $54 each way. Next year, direct flights are due to launch between Bangkok and Sihanoukville, which will cut the journey time by a third.

The stay

Rooms at Alila Villas Koh Russey (www.alilahotels.com/ kohrussey) cost from $385 per night including taxes.

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Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi

Director: Kangana Ranaut, Krish Jagarlamudi

Producer: Zee Studios, Kamal Jain

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Ankita Lokhande, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni

Rating: 2.5/5

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

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Although similar in its appearance, the concept of a fractional title deed is unlike that of a timeshare, which usually involves multiple investors buying “time” in a property whereby the owner has the right to occupation for a specified period of time in any year, as opposed to the actual real estate, said John Peacock, Head of Indirect Tax and Conveyancing, BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates, a law firm.

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EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates