Tahrir al-Sham will not be subdued by the destruction of Idlib over the heads of its inhabitants, or by the sacrifice of millions of civilians, or by the devastation of their habitats; such acts are what breed terrorism and extremism. Nor will it help to put these groups under siege. On the contrary, this will spawn grievances, hidden and overt, which terrorism needs to survive and flourish.

Serious effort needs to be put into finding political solutions that reunite people and communities, empowering them to speak out against and combat terrorism, if extremism is to be contained and terrorism eliminated. Unfortunately, Moscow is trying to prevent this, rejecting the political transition envisaged by UN resolutions – the first of which is 2254 – and insisting Assad remains in place at all costs.

Bankruptcy of the Syrian regime

Without the involvement of those same communities in combatting extremism and in containing terrorism, thereʹs no hope of eliminating either, but their participation in this endeavour will not be gained by intensive aerial bombardment of their villages and towns, or by destroying homes over the heads of their inhabitants. The breeding grounds of extremism and terrorism will not be shrunk by ignoring real problems, denying legitimate demands, manipulating a few opportunistic elites, or by persisting on resolving the struggle for power and resources by military force.

It certainly wonʹt be possible to promote peace and reconciliation or mutual understanding between people and communities by defending to the hilt a regime which has demonstrated its bankruptcy, or by forcing this regime onto a people who have suffered so much from it. The Assad regime has, after all, been the primary cause of the countryʹs destruction – of the killing of thousands and the displacement of millions of its people.

This holds true regardless of Russiaʹs national interest or the legitimacy or otherwise of Moscowʹs challenge to Syrian and Western policies, which we have observed in Syria for years. Unless, of course, the true aim of the war against terror is to perpetuate terror itself, drawing people into internal wars, without any way out, and undermining concord, harmony and understanding in order to control resources or territory.

Burhan Ghalioun

© Qantara.de 2018

Translated from the Arabic by Chris Somes-Charlton

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