The solution of the Syrian crisis, an important step towards a multipolar world

by Georges Corm* and Gabriel Galice**, Geneva

“Negotiations for a peaceful end to the horrific Syrian conflict could therefore be a sensible way to put an end to this bloody wasps’ nest for all external actors. This would be a first step towards a multipolar world attained by negotiation.”

Unfortunately, the general consternation caused by the photograph of a drowned Syrian child in Europe did not lead to questioning the stereotype reports on the Syrian drama’s causes. Some of these causes have to be searched at some distance: There are, for instance, the US plans for the reorganization of the “Great Middle East”, on the pretext of wanting to introduce democratic states, of destroying the “rebellious” countries who do not subject to the geopolitical objectives of US and its allies. The more obvious cause was the disastrous implementation of such plans in Iraq in 2003, in Libya and Syria in 2011, and currently in the Yemen – on the basis of resolutions adopted by the terminately sick Arab League, which the UN Security Council had approved. These operations paved the way to the “Islamic State” (IS).
This policy causes a severe infringement of international lawprinciples, which have already been strongly impaired by the double standards in politics. They appeal to moral and ethical principles, which – since enforced with brute force – have led to the death of thousands of innocent people and the extensive destruction of entire societies. All principles of international law are being subverted by that.
Actually, NATO, after the implosion of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, should have been transformed into a kind of OSCE, increasingly involving even the Russian Federation and possibly China. This did not happen. Thus, the relative monopoly of the enlarged NATO created a false sense of omnipotence, not least through the use and abuse of “Smart Power” (media, think tanks, funding of NGOs, special operations, etc.). This sense of omnipotence was even more significantly enhanced by the partnership with the oil monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East which are little democratic. In the case of Syria, the latter have, together with Turkey that has been pursuing its own regional interests, financed and armed the second generation of terrorist groups that emerged from Al Qaeda – especially the so-called “Islamic State” and the so-called “Al Nusra” Front.
Today, however, two factors are complicating the Syrian situation for the United States and their allied European states. Against all expectations of the Western diplomatic services, the Syrian regime is still in office. Its opponents seem therefore – at least publicly – less and less willing to give preference either to the IS or the Al Nusra front. Is it possible that the sense of reality is slowly becoming manifest in the Western diplomatic services? This is greatly to be hoped, although it could just as well be only diplomatic manoeuvres.
The second factor which is related to the first is that every action causes a reaction. The expansion of the American “omnipotence” encounters different types of resistance. Some are powerful states that pursue important regional interests, such as China, Russia and Iran; the others are moderate forces within the imperial states, who have learned from the failures or the results of the often catastrophic armed interventions. The Obama administration and the British Parliament seem to belong to these “doves” being less narrow-minded than the “hawks” (sometimes also European ones) – if we want to take up Benjamin Barber’s distinction.
Today Syria is the field of a larger and extremely violently-led confrontation between states with imperial tendencies and the regionally oriented states. The purely local actors are thereby exploited relatively easily for the familiar tactics of “proxy war”.
The “case” of Syria and that of the Ukraine have taken us back again into the mood of the Cold War. It is a matter of course that Russia, which is still an important state, has clear geopolitical objectives. The first is the fight against terrorist contamination on its territory and its extension across the Caucasus and Chechnya. Russia’s second goal is to secure its only military stronghold in the Mediterranean, which is located on the Syrian coast.
Currently, Russia wishes for a joint military response to the IS and the first steps for a diplomatic solution for Syria agreed upon with the USA. The question thus arises as to whether we are willing to switch from a Western-dominated unipolar world to a multipolar world, in which countries such as Russia, China or Iran will have their place, or whether the policy of execration and demonization of all rulers who do not submit to the will of the US and its allies, should be continued.
Negotiations for a peaceful end to the horrific Syrian conflict could therefore be a sensible way to put an end to this bloody wasps’ nest for all external actors. This would be a first step towards a multipolar world attained by negotiation.     •
*    Georges Corm was born in 1940 in Egypt. He is a Lebanese politician, economist, historian and lawyer, and was Minister of Finance of the Republic of Lebanon from 1998 to 2000. He is the author of numerous books on the history of the Middle East. Since 2001 he has been Professor at the University of Saint-Joseph in Beirut.
**    Gabriel Galice was born in 1951 in Lyon. He is an economist and political scientist with a doctorate at the University of Grenoble, author and editor of several books and articles on the nation, Europe, the war and about Jean-Jacques Rousseau and peace. He is president of the “Institut international de recherches sur la paix“ (GIPRI) in Geneva.
(Translation Current Concerns)