Terrorism can’t be fought effectively without defeating the Assad regime

What the Arabic media is saying about the fight against extremism. 

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Three years of war that has claimed 191,000 lives have left Syria tattered and its people weak and despaired. The conflict is becoming complex with each passing day. As the number of prisoners, refugees, wounded, missing and displaced people grows, Syrians have started questioning the legitimacy of the revolution.

“All the past and current events are the result of the Syrian regime’s intention to terrorise the people and push them to the edge of despair, leaving them with no choice but to endure once again a reality that had been imposed upon them through the threat of terrorism and which had jaded them for decades,” remarked Abdel Bassat Seida, in the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

“Before the revolution, the regime said that Syria was not Tunisia or Egypt – not even Libya. Bashar Al Assad made it clear that he was ready to destroy the country to keep it under his control. He has carried out his threats ever since the revolution began.

“In the light of the rumours that imply some sort of regional consensus based on moderation ... this seems like betting on the good intentions of the regime under the false impression that terrorism – in particular that of ISIL – has become the greatest menace and all efforts must be made to counter it.

“This means that Mr Al Assad and his group will stay on in exchange for basic reforms that may well attract some members of the opposition out of concern for their country and their people.”

He concluded by saying that the activities of ISIL have been condemned by all Syrians and that the group has no future in Syria.

“The relationship between this terrorism and that of the regime is organic. The situation cannot be resolved by keeping either one of the two if we wish to build the foundations of moderation in the region. Terrorism in all its forms is unacceptable.”

In the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq El Awsat, Tarik Hameed suggested that these are the most dangerous days for Mr Al Assad. “The murderer of Damascus will not come out of this crisis with the same opportunities he has had since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution,” he wrote.

“When the Arab and international coalition began striking [ISIL] in Syria, Al Assad wanted to declare himself an ally of the international community and its partner in the war against terrorism, so as not to lose face before his own community and, above all, before Hizbollah that is fighting against Syrians on his behalf and the Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, who oversees security in Damascus. In the meantime, the international community is fighting ISIL. So, what is Mr Al Assad’s role? What exactly is he doing?”.

Writing in the London-based newspaper Asharq El Awsat, Abdel Rahman Al Rashed said: “Most world leaders accept that both the problem and the solution can be found in Damascus. A way out of the crisis would be a legitimate central government that would be entrusted with a mission to fight these terrorist groups – a task that is impossible to accomplish without overthrowing Mr Al Assad.”

He argued that “such a transition would not work without prior consent from Iran and Russia – Mr Al Assad’s allies”.

In Al Ittihad, the sister newspaper of The National, Waheed Abdel Majeed looked into the problems of the US-led coalition against ISIL.

“The position of the Assad regime in this confrontation could become a ‘ticking time bomb’ and explode at any moment should either of these scenarios occurs. The first is if any coordination between the US and Mr Al Assad comes to the knowledge of those countries that refuse to deal with him. The second is if the forces of the regime succeed in wresting control of areas dominated by ISIL at an advance stage of the confrontation. That will enhance the regime’s capabilities and make it stronger.”

Translated by Carla Mirza