Return To Syrian Sovereignty Key To Ending Eight Years Of Civil War - Former US Envoy

(@FahadShabbir)

Return to Syrian Sovereignty Key to Ending Eight Years of Civil War - Former US Envoy

A comprehensive settlement to the ongoing conflict in Syria can only be achieved by recognizing the Syrian government's sovereignty over the country, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman told Sputnik on Friday, as the war entered its ninth year

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 15th March, 2019) A comprehensive settlement to the ongoing conflict in Syria can only be achieved by recognizing the Syrian government's sovereignty over the country, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman told Sputnik on Friday, as the war entered its ninth year.

"A return to respect for Syrian sovereignty is the sine qua non for peace in that country," Freeman said.

March 15 marks the start of eight years of upheaval in which the United States, Saudi Arabia and their allies funneled arms, training and financial support to opposition groups in Syria seeking to topple the government of President Bashar Assad.

The Islamic State (IS, outlawed in Russia) terror group, also known as Daesh, took advantage of the chaos to at one point seize half the country before the Syrian Army backed by Russian airstrikes played the key role in turning the tide.

Freeman said recognizing the authority of the Damascus government over the entire territory of the country was central to finally establish a stable and lasting peace. But the United States, Israel and Turkey still refuse to acknowledge this reality, he cautioned.

"The prospects for this in the near future are poor, given great power rivalries, the Israeli and American obsession with Iran and its presence in Syria, and the unwillingness of Israel, the United States, and Turkey to respect Syrian sovereignty," he said.

Freeman noted that peace remains difficult to achieve after eight years of war that has cost an estimated 600,000 lives and generated millions of refugees.

"From the outset, the strife in Syria was as much a congeries of proxy wars supported by foreign powers as it was a many-sided internal power struggle," Freeman said.

Therefore, "Any resolution of the conflict must have buy-in from external as well as domestic Syrian actors."

Iran and Russia supported the government of President Bashar Assad rather than any of the radical Islamist factions arrayed against it, Freeman pointed out.

On the other side, "The United States, Turkey, the Gulf Arabs, and Israel all attempted to overthrow the government by supporting its opponents, some of whom were terrorists as well as enemies elsewhere of those supporting them in Syria," he said.

The Trump administration ended aid to them when it became apparent that it had not only been ineffective but politically embarrassing and counterproductive, Freeman noted.

"The approach followed by the United States and other foreign opponents of the government in Damascus failed to overthrow it. Assad's regime survived to play a key role in strangling the so-called 'Islamic Caliphate,'" he said.

Foreign assistance to anti-Assad forces both widened and extended the conflict, greatly increasing the number of dead, wounded and displaced Syrian civilians as well as casualties among those actually engaged in the fighting.

"It helped to prolong Syria's agony rather than to produce a resolution of the conflict, which remains elusive," Freeman concluded.

IS has picked Northern Afghanistan as the new center of its caliphate, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) first deputy director General Sergei Smirnov said on Friday following a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (SCO RATS) council.

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