For the last few months, the international community’s attention has been naturally focused on the crisis in Gaza. However, we must not look away from another inextricable crisis that has shaken the region for almost 13 years.
What happened on 7 October and the following war shows how “frozen” crises can burst at any time if the deep roots of the conflict are not addressed. That is why it is more important than ever to stay mobilised on the Syrian crisis to reach a political solution to the conflict.
After 13 years of conflict and relatively still frontlines since 2020, the situation in Syria puts us in front of an impossible choice: either moving towards normalisation without preliminary concessions or contemplating the status quo. None of these options represents an acceptable solution.
Normalisation has been the trendy word of 2023, in the context of the reintegration of Syria into the Arab League in May, the attempt for an Ankara-Damascus rapprochement as well as some discussions between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian regime. However, all these tracks face the same intransigence from Bashar al-Assad, who remains the biggest obstacle to normalisation.
Regarding the Arab attempt to engage with the regime, Damascus made no concessions. Captagon trafficking is on the rise, with the complicity of the regime and its army, turning Syria into a narco-state.
The conditions for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the 12 million Syrians who left their homes — half the country’s population, either refugees or internally displaced persons —are still not met due to the regime's unwillingness to show protection guarantees for the returnees.
The rapprochement between Turkey and Syria also ran out of steam in the absence of will from the regime to compromise. Finally, all rounds of discussion between the SDF and the regime failed due to the regime’s intangible will to return to the status quo ante bellum.
These unsuccessful attempts reinforced our conviction that there is nothing to gain from offering gifts to the regime before any valuable concession.