Since the start of the uprising in Syria last year, various solutions and scenarios have been proposed by both Arab and international organisations, like the Arab League and the United Nations, in order to end the bloodshed in the country.
The Arab League had proposed earlier this year that a Yemen-like solution could be adopted in Syria, wherein, President Bashar Al Assad would hand over power to his vice-president. Another proposal was to apply the “Bosnia model” with Nato and the UN making a
joint intervention in the country.
But all of these proposals were turned down by Assad. Syria is now in a stalemate and as days turn into months, more innocent people are killed, with a drawn-out civil war becoming inevitable.
Below are 10 possible solutions to end the crisis in Syria. We have to remember that there is no single solution to solve the crisis. A combination of two or more suggested below may pave the way to stop the violence in the country.
1. Impose a no-fly zone
Last week, Qatar called for a no-fly zone to be imposed on Syria in order to provide a safe place for the Syrian people as Assad’s forces continue to bomb rebel-held areas using jets and helicopter gunships. Qatar’s Prime Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani said during an interview with CNN that a no-fly zone would have wide support from both Arab and European countries
2. Secure rebel-controlled areas
In order to consolidate the gains made by Syrian rebels and opposition groups, rebel-controlled areas need to be fully secured from attacks by Assad’s forces. French President Francois Hollande called on the United Nations “to provide immediately to the Syrian people all the support and to protect liberated zones.”
3. Provide aid and logistics support to the rebels
In line with the previous solution, securing the rebel-controlled areas also means that the international community should continue to provide aid and logistic support to the rebels so that they will have the tools to secure the territory won from Assad’s regime.
4. Establish a transitional government recognised by the international community
Similar to Libya’s National Transitional Council, there is a great need to unify various groups that make up Syria’s rebels and opposition groups. Having a transitional government that is recognized by the international community will help legitimise the opposition groups’ struggle against the regime and give the revolution a ‘political face’. It will also give them much needed leverage when interacting with Assad’s regime.
5. Sever or boycott trade with Russia and China
Russia and China have been the two major stumbling blocks that have hindered a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. They have vetoed thrice resolutions, which has led to the present diplomatic stalemate. Arab countries should work together to either cut or boycott trade ties with Russia and China.
According to Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (in remarks he gave during the 3rd China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum in Yinchuan), the current trade between China and Arab countries stands at nearly $200bn and investments between the two countries have grown eight-fold in the last 10 years. Russia, on the other hand, also has substantial trade with the Middle East.
Earlier this year, Muslim leaders called for a boycott of Russian and Chinese products to protest their support for Syria.
By cutting or boycotting trade, Arabs can put pressure on these two countries to reconsider their support for Assad’s regime. The loss they may incur from this action will be bigger than what they would lose from withdrawing support for Syria’s embattled government.
6. Enact Chapter 7 of the UN Charter
One approach to solving the crisis in Syria is to seek the enactment of Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows military intervention especially since the conflict has threatened peace and security in the region. This solution has already been proposed at the UN Security Council many times but Russia and China vetoed it. The Chapter 7 can still be invoked but it needs approval from all members of the Security Council, which can be achieved only if Russia and China are pressured not to use their veto power.
7. Withdrawal of Iran’s support for Assad regime
Assad’s regime will suffer a major blow if Iran suddenly withdraws its support. The withdrawal of support can happen in exchange for some deal with Iran, like lifting sanctions on its oil trade with Western countries. This may seem implausible at first but we have to remember that Iran’s economy has been suffering and its currency has plunged to a record low. Its unemployment rate was high at 15.3 percent in 2011 while inflation rate was a huge 22.5 percent in 2011. Iranians have been restive as evident in recent protests in the country’s north-eastern province of Khorasan Razavi over the rising prices of chicken.
8. Send a joint Arab and international force to Syria
At the UN General Assembly, Qatar’s Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani called for sending an intervention force to Syria to stop the bloodshed. He said that “it is better for Arab countries themselves to intervene out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed.” The Emir cited the example of the Arab Deterrent Force sent to Lebanon during the civil war in the 1970s.
A combined force of Arab and international community will succeed in stopping Assad’s forces from slaughtering his people.
9. Assad will step down and transfer power
Another possible solution is that Assad will finally realise the futility of clinging to power. In order to keep whatever little gains he has now, he will step down as president and transfer power to either his vice-president or a caretaker government in exchange for an immunity deal for him and his family.
10. Assassination of Assad by rebel forces
The last and most drastic solution to the Syrian crisis is if Assad is assassinated either by rebels or some other group, like what happened to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
We hope that the situation will not reach this stage especially due to the chance of a sectarian war as some Alawite members in army support Assad. Finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis is still a priority but if one party is not open to compromise, it is not feasible.