It's been five years since Syria's bloody conflict started. The civil war, which shows no signs of dying down, has cost more than 250,000 lives so far. The conflict, in which DAESH found the opportunity to rise from its ashes, turned the war-torn country into the world's most dangerous place to live and work. And yet, is there any possible solution in sight? Is there hope for a political resolution in Syria? Or are we looking at another 10 years, or more, of conflict?
In joint action against terror and in order to stop the conflict in Syria, 17 nations recently came together for several meetings in Vienna. The plan set by diplomats remained in the background due to the Paris attacks but it looks like all parties, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Russia and the U.S., overcame their different opinions on how to bring peace after five years of conflict in Syria and to end the war-torn country's role as a swamp that nourishes DAESH. In the meetings held by foreign ministers and diplomats in Vienna, the nations in question adopted a timeline suggesting a cease-fire be in place in six months between the Syrian regime in Damascus and the recognized opposition groups. The proposed peace plan also stated that "free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months." It is a promising development so far but there are still many questions up in the air. First of all, there were no representatives from the two leading sides of the civil war, the Assad regime and the opposition forces, in those meetings. Attending nations restated their agreement on the need to convene the Syrian government and opposition representatives in formal negotiations backed by the U.N. However, the initial comments from opposition groups regarding the initial statements over the proposed plan are not optimistic. They say that it is nothing but talk. It is not surprising that the opposition in Syria say they will not accept Bashar Assad for one more day, the person who destroyed his own country and started all the violence in the first place. In the five-year conflict, there has been not one single day in which they abandoned their arguments that Assad needs to be removed from power, brought to justice along with his regime and put in jail.
In the meantime, speaking to Italian state television, Bashar Assad said last week, "Nothing can start before defeating the terrorists who occupy parts of Syria." DAESH has found room to grow in the Syrian mess and has started to threaten people across the world, thanks to the Assad regime's brutality and mass killings. But it's not only that, Assad considers anyone fighting against his regime to be terrorists. That puts us back to square one. Neither Assad nor the opposition forces can change their position regarding the future of Syria.
On the other hand, millions of people have fled their homes and became refugees. Nearly 10 million people being internally displaced and 4 million seeking shelter abroad raises the question of how it will be possible to hold a free and fair election in 18 months even if a cease-fire is put into place since most of the refugees will not go back until Assad leaves. Then, the situation in Syria intensifies, especially after the Russian air forces' bombardment of northern Syria assisting the ground forces of the regime and Hezbollah.
U.S. President Barack Obama first said, "Assad must leave power" more than four years ago. Now the U.S. elections are coming ever closer; Obama will leave office in one year but Assad has no intention of doing so. It looks like Assad's presidency will outlive Obama's, the man who tried to force Assad to leave power before anyone else, then chose to change his policy and closed his eyes to the hell in Syria. Besides, his office didn't let any of their allies do anything without Washington's complicity. The Obama administration is making another policy change over Syria after Russia came out with her own plan, but for now, it looks
like Obama's efforts are too little and too late.