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Syria: ‘The war is over, we must return to the political struggle’

Louay Hussein calls on the anti-Assad camp, defeated at Aleppo, to turn the page of the armed struggle.

Published: February 24, 2017, 9:48 am

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    Aged 57, and repeatedly imprisoned by the Syrian government, Hussein has long been a figure of the so-called opposition from within, but also hostile to the militarisation of the anti-Assad uprising.

    In 2015, after a few months in prison for an article denouncing oppression, Hussein went into exile in Spain.

    On Friday 10 February in Beirut, for the launch of a new movement called the National Bloc, he discussed the prospects for the settlement of the conflict, including the peace talks to reopen on Thursday in Geneva, under the auspices of the United Nations in an interview with Le Monde.

    “The war in Syria is over. The armed groups were defeated. The countries which armed and financed them ceased to support them. A new phase opens. This is the result of the Battle of Aleppo and the Astana Conference,” according to Hussein.

    The Astana conference was held in mid-January, after which the cease-fire proclaimed at the end of December 2016 was reaffirmed. “These two events marked the failure of the war to overthrow the regime. This is the end of the military struggle. We have to go back to the political struggle and it’s through Geneva,” Hussein told French daily Le Monde.

    The Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition platform, Hussein believes is a “politically empty shell”.

    “It exists only on television screens. It does not know how to fight. That is why we have formed in Beirut this National Bloc, which brings together several parties, civil society and personalities…In other words, we are back to square one in 2011 … Yes, with hundreds of thousands of dead more. I predicted in 2012 that this would happen if the militarisation of the uprising continued.

    “Foreign powers waged war on our backs, arming the regime and rebel groups. And now that the pursuit of the war is no longer in their interest, they come to ask us, in an arrogant tone: ‘What is the solution?’ War was of no use, except to prevent the Syrians from engaging in a political struggle.”

    But he also claims Russians and Americans need to put an end to the conflict, because the “threat of Daech [ISIS] is too strong”.

    Given Senator John McCain’s recent visit to Syria this past week to visit the Kurds, the US might be attempting to create a Kurdish/Turkish alliance against the Syrian government, for a desired partitioning of Syria.

    It seems that ISIS is under pressure in Syria with a sudden retreat on all fronts during the last 24 hours, suggesting a measure of synchronicity. Blogger Moon of Alabama believes a central order must have been given to pull back to the buildup areas of Raqqa in Syria and south Mosul in Iraq.

    “But ISIS has nowhere to go from those areas. Mosul is completely surrounded and Raqqa is mostly cut off. After the massacres they committed everywhere ISIS fighters can not expect any mercy. They have made enemies everywhere and aside from a few (Saudi) radical clerics no friends are left to help them. The recent retreats are thereby likely not signs of surrender. ISIS will continue to fight until it is completely destroyed.”

    Eljah Magnier, analyst of the Syrian conflict, noted on recent developments: “The US policy in Syria seems frantic and far-fetched without efficient powerful allies on the ground, and is unable to retake cities from ISIS with its Kurdish proxies alone. And the ‘honeymoon’ between Washington and Riyadh will certainly have a substantial negative effect on the war in Syria. This will increase the closeness between Russia and Iran, but the tension between US and Russia is also expected to increase: one side (the US) wants partition and the other (Russia) wants a unified Syria without al-Qaida and ISIS, and without Turkey occupying the north of Syria and a Saudi Arabia return to the Bilad al-Sham. At this stage, it is difficult to speculate on what this clash of incompatible objectives will produce on the ground in Syria.”

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