the grayness of geneva 2 and hezbollahs haste
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Last Updated : GMT 12:45:25
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The grayness of Geneva 2 and Hezbollah's haste

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the grayness of geneva 2 and hezbollahs haste

Walid Choucair

Regional and international powers concerned with the convening of a Geneva 2 peace conference for Syria have been involved in verbal sparring, as under-the-table discussions about how to interpret the provisions of Geneva 1 are also taking place. The implementation of the statement issued by the Working Group for Syria on 30 June 2012 was at the heart of the US-Russian understanding that was hammered out in September, to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons. When Moscow and Washington confronted the issue of a political solution, they hurried to begin preparations for Geneva 2, based on the Geneva 1 gathering. This was so that they would not be accused of forgetting about the essence of the Syrian crisis, which turned into a civil war that pitted the regime and its supporters against the opposition. However, the two countries encountered obstacles, which prompted them to revert to their core stances. Moscow realizes that an understanding on the chemical issue, even if it prolongs the life of the Bashar Assad regime, does not mean that his survival has been enshrined, or that his Syrian, regional and international political rivals will agree to such a thing. The political formula has settled on “no defeat” for Assad, and not on a victory for the Syrian president. In addition, Moscow realizes that the assistance Assad has received from Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi militias fighting alongside his forces has let him retake some positions or fend off rebel attacks against others. This will let him hold on for a while, and prevent Moscow from discussing Assad’s fate with its partner Washington, without an agreement from Iran on such a move. Thus, Moscow has come to see that the implementation of Geneva 1, in terms of setting up a transitional authority with full executive powers, does not mean that Assad will give up power. The international interpretation of this provision, in contrast, is that Assad will give up his powers, even if he remains the president of Syria as a prelude to finding a suitable exit for him. However, Moscow has covered up its inability (or lack of desire) to guarantee a political transition by focusing on the fact that the Syrian opposition rejects Geneva 2, accusing it of setting pre-conditions if it insists on implementing the provision that mentions a transitional body. Washington, meanwhile, realizes that getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons does not mean that it can turn its back on the essence of the crisis. It realizes that its inability to get rid of Assad and implement the Geneva 1 provision about executive powers has threatened its relations with allies in the region. Thus, Washington is being stripped of negotiating cards, whether with Moscow or Tehran, for negotiations over the latter’s nuclear program or its influence in the Middle East. This is why the United States tried to re-cement its shared concerns with Saudi Arabia, in terms of Gulf security and the Syrian crisis, by reassuring its ally that it would not abandon the Syrian opposition and its demand to attend Geneva 2 on this basis, and exert efforts with the opposition so that it accepts attending Geneva 2, in order to implement Geneva 1. This policy proves how committed Washington is to its agreement with Moscow over convening Geneva 2, as the follow-up to the two countries' agreement over the chemical weapons issue. Russia, meanwhile, believes that it has done what it can to prompt Assad to accept attending Geneva with no conditions; it has been wary of “a transitional government exercising full executive powers.” This phrase has been avoided by Iran, which is also wary of talking about accepting Geneva 1. The dispute over interpreting Geneva 1 and the transitional stage continues; thus, it is natural for vagueness to prevail over the period preceding Geneva 2. One aspect of this cloudy picture is being experienced in Lebanon. Hezbollah believes that since the Russia-US agreement over chemical weapons, and the beginning of American openness to Iran, it has achieved superiority over the Lebanese-regional front that is hostile to the Syrian regime. This is particularly after the regime has achieved progress on several fronts over the last two months, allowing it to protect Damascus against any attack. The party does not accept the vagueness prevailing over the current phase and believes that the relief felt by it and its allies, over what has been achieved internationally, regionally and on the ground in Syria, should be translated into something in Lebanon, such as the acceptance of its options for a way out of the current limbo in the executive branch of government, and for dealing with ways to manage the country’s affairs. Hezbollah believes that the time is ripe for its reading of the superiority of it and its allies to be reflected in political decisions locally, and in the next Cabinet. However, this “gray period” is pushing Hezbollah’s local rivals to decline accepting its reading of the transformations underway. Perhaps this explains the level of considerable tension that characterizes the rhetoric of Hezbollah leaders vis-à-vis these rivals, and vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and its policies. This “grayness” in the run-up to the proposed Geneva 2 peace conference will prompt Iran and Hezbollah to try and remove both Syria and Lebanon from this phase, even though such a move involves high costs. And this is despite the fact that it will only see Hezbollah sink further into the Syrian quagmire and the cat-and-mouse fighting that characterizes the war underway in that country. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arab Today.

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the grayness of geneva 2 and hezbollahs haste the grayness of geneva 2 and hezbollahs haste

 



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