Who will decide Syria's future?
Now that the offensive against the last Syrian rebel stronghold in Idlib has been fended off for now, the question arises of what the post-war order could look like. A group of international jurists warned on Tuesday in an appeal to UN Secretary General Guterres that human rights could be disregarded in the reconstruction phase. The West must not once again turn a blind eye, commentators admonish.
The West will initiate small changes
The Lebanese website Almodon can't imagine that once peace is agreed in Syria everything will go back to the way it was before the war:
“The West will insist in the negotiations with the Astana trio (Russia, Iran and Turkey) that the power of the Syrian president be curtailed, as a prelude to his removal from office. In exchange, the prime minister will be granted more powers. The Syria of the future is to have a parliamentary system. ... The states of the West will demand that those guilty of war crimes be held to account in court, and that the government of the new Syria must cooperate with the international community. ... However, it's entirely possible that these demands will be watered down in the course of the negotiations.”
Don't sacrifice international law
Pierre Haski, columnist at the radio station France Inter, backs the appeal despite its meagre chances of success:
“The lawyers' appeal has been filed in accordance with Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council, which was passed unanimously in December 2015 by the 15 member states, including Russia. … This resolution stipulates a political transition in Syria and a stop to the fighting. Not only has it remained a dead letter, but the consensus of 2015 has long since disappeared and the war has turned in Damascus's favour. The jurists' appeal thus has little chance of being heard at this stage, but it has the merit of existing: a reminder in a world which is fast becoming a jungle that there is such a thing as international law.”
Syrians still deserve something better than Assad
While Syria's future lies in the hands of Russia, Turkey and Iran, this does not mean that the West can shirk its responsibility, Politiken argues:
“Turkey has de facto annexed parts of northern Syria and the last thing it wants is chaos in Idlib. Russia, for its part, has already ensured the survival of the Assad regime. ... The US and Europe, meanwhile, have disappointed both their own ideals and those of the Syrian people. All the talk about democracy has come to nothing. ... It would now be tempting to throw in the towel and leave it to Russia, Turkey and Iran to sort things out in Syria. Tempting, but wrong. The battle for Syria has been lost this time round, but in the long term the idea is to build up a civil society that can oust Assad. The Syrians deserve better. Much better.”
Russians should get out of Syria fast
After the Syrian airforce accidentally shot down a Russian military aircraft last week, Moscow linked the incident to Israeli airstrikes. In a blog entry reprinted by newsru.com, opposition politician Alexei Melnikov warns that Russia risks being caught between the lines in Syria:
“Putin's responsibility for the developments in Syria has led Russia to squeeze its way into the conflict between Syria and Israel. ... The tragedy of the Il-20 clearly demonstrates that. But instead of drawing the right conclusions and leaving Syria, Russia's leadership has decided to do the opposite - and therefore continues to risk the lives of Russian soldiers, waste resources and totter on the brink of a military conflict with Israel, the US and its allies.”