Prospects for a Political Solution to the Crisis in Syria

China International Studies | 作者: Dong Manyuan | 时间: 2014-01-07 | 责编: Li Xiaoyu
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by Dong Manyuan



I. Evolution of the Crisis in Syria


Beginning in early 2011, many people in West Asia and North Africa took to streets in an attempt to urge their governments to step down. As a whole, these various street movements were termed the “Arab Spring” by Western and some Arab media outlets.


    During the movements, President Ben Ali of Tunisia, who was in power for 24 years, was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak failed to win support from the military and was placed under house arrest after announcing his resignation; governments in Oman, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait, Lebanon and other countries were forced to have reshuffles; the 19-year-long state of emergency in Algeria was officially lifted, and the promise of “full democracy and freedom” was made to the people;[1]Sudanese President Bashir will not stand in next election when his current term of office expires in 2015; and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will not run for a third term.[2]


Very quickly the political turmoil in West Asia and North Africa spread to Syria. Starting from March 15, 2011, anti-government protestors went to streets in Damascus, Aleppo, al-Hasakah, Daraa, Deir ez-Zor, Hama, Homs and other major cities, demanding political reform and human rights. The authorities dispatched police and arrested more than 3,000 people. Called by Suhair Atassi, a feminist, tens of thousands of people continued protests in the above cities. The Syrian Interior Ministry, at its briefing to foreign media, said these protestors were supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Strongly dissatisfied with the reactions and responses made to protests by the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister and other local officials, Bashar al-Assad dismissed and replaced them one after another. He also ordered the army to use tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters to crack down protests. Special force entered the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus to arrest demonstration organizers. From mid-April to early June, the government had the situation under its control by using forces to quell anti-government activities in cities of Della, Holmes, Gisborne Ershu Gul, and Hama. It was reported by the Middle Eastern media that hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands of people were injured in the crackdown, while Western media reported a greater casualties.[3] In response, the Syrian government issued a statement, criticizing foreign media’s exaggeration of casualties. After the suppression of large-scale anti-government demonstrations, the “Muslim Brotherhood” in Syria, the Kurds and the Druze started their guerrilla warfare in northern region of the country. The Syrian government intensified efforts to wipe out anti-government military actions under the name of “a fight against terrorists”. Government military operations have driven large numbers of people to escape across the border to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries. As of September 2013, nearly 2 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries. While stabilizing situation through military means, Bashar al-Assad took certain conciliation measures in response to pressures both at home and abroad: the “law on state of emergency” was canceled, an amnesty enacted, the army accused of “overreaction” and political reform promises committed, etc. However, the main oppositions were not appeased, and the United States and Europe also stepped up pressures on Bashar al-Assad to promote changes in Syria. US President Barack Obama condemned Bashar al-Assad for “repression of the democratic movement”on many occasions. The leaderships from the European Union, Britain, France, Italy and others made similar remarks. In April 2011, Washington imposed sanctions on Syrian officials including President Bashar al-Assad and froze their assets on the grounds of human rights violations. The EU exerted similar sanctions. The UN Human Rights Council adopted a draft resolution tabled by 15 countries, to condemn the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. In May President Barack Obama demanded that President Bashar al-Assad should step down. In July, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington had to consider the possibility of a post-Assad era since Bashar al-Assad had lost his legitimacy in ruling the country.


The United States is committed to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime for the following reasons: after the pro-US and pro-Israel regime in Iran was overthrown by the “Islamic revolution” in 1979, former President of Syria Hafez al-Assad formed the strategic alliance with Iran, posing a challenge to the US strategy in the Middle East. When Bashar al-Assad took over the presidency, he continued the strategic coordination with Iran by taking anti-Israel and pro-Hamas and Hezbollah positions. To overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime is also in the interests of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries. Saudi Arabia and Turkey believe that Iran engages in geopolitical and religious expansion and penetration in the Middle Eastern and the Gulf region and poses threats to political survival and domestic stability of countries in the region. When Syria was embroiled in unrest, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other countries supported the opposition by providing large amount of funds. Egypt also joined the anti-Assad regional alliance at a time when the Supreme Council of the armed forces took over state power, and when Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Freedom and Justice Party within the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president. Pushed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Arab League adopted resolutions condemning the Bashar al-Assad regime of its “suppressions against civilians” and of “creating humanitarian crisis”. And the Arab League went further to terminate Syria’s membership in the Arab League and imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria.


The above-mentioned reactions taken by the international community and countries concerned in the region constitute strong encouragement to the Syrian opposition, and their anti-Assad confidence by relying on external support was very much boosted. In July 2011, Colonel Riad al-Assad, a former Syrian army officer, established the “Free Syrian Army (FSA)”, and started the civil war in Syria. The FSA has its headquarter in Turkey, recruited and trained soldiers from refugee camps, and infiltrated back to Syria through the border with Syria. With the political support from the United States and the financial backing from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other GCC countries, and with the arms supply and personnel training from France, Britain, and Turkey, the FSA has seen an increasing enlargement. As of October 2013, the FSA has an army of 50,000 in number, and it has the ability to fight for possession of Aleppo, Holmes and other places and carry out attacks against the Capital Damascus. Since September 2013, the United States began to provide weapons to the FSA. In view of a turbulent situation in Syria, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Al Qaeda, released in July 2012 a religious decree, calling on his followers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, the Arab Peninsula, the Maghreb and other places to go to Syria and “to carry out a jihad” against the Bashar al-Assad regime. Encouraged by Ayman al-Zawahiri, many of the Al Qaeda militants arrived in Syria, and some of them joined the FSA, with an attempt to carry out an “Islamic reform” to the FSA in future. In addition to the Al Qaeda, some other armed groups from West Asia and North Africa also came to Syria. In early 2012, about 600 militants from the “Libyan National Liberation Army” went to Syria via Turkey, and 50 Egyptian militants from the Sinai Peninsula Armed Branch of “Atonement and Migration” came to Syria via Lebanon. Some of them were captured in battles with the Syrian government forces, testifying the fact of “involvement of foreign armed personnel in the civil war in Syria”.


In order to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime with low cost and in a short span of time, the US, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and other countries pushed Mr. Kofi Annan to work as a special envoy for both the United Nations and the Arab League, and to mediate the crisis in Syria, in an attempt to solve the crisis by copying the “Yemen model”. However, Bashar al-Assad refused to give up his power. With the war between the government force and the FSA escalating, the above-mentioned countries turned to giving full support to anti-government forces, wishing the Assad regime could be overthrown by force.


In July 2012, Mr. Kofi Annan acknowledged failure in his mediation. He then handed in his resignation as special envoy on August 2, 2012. Strongly requested by Russia and China, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary General Arabi appointed Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, former Algerian Foreign Minister, to succeed Mr. Kofi Annan after consultations. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi visited Syria on September 13, 2012, hoping to bring a ceasefire between government troops and rebels. President Bashar al-Assad stressed that the government force was in a war against terrorists, and he hoped that the UN and the Arab League would take an impartial position by stopping some countries’ assistance to terrorist organizations.


With open support from the United States, Europe and other countries, anti-government forces in Syria became very much emboldened, fought with flexible tactics and captured some cities and towns in northern and western Syria. The government force suffered heavy casualties and some ammunition depots were taken by rebels.


Iran concerned very much the unfavorable situation the Assad regime was facing on the battlefield. In September 2012, the Commission of the Islamic Experts and the Qom Seminary invited Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadl-Allah, Hezbollah spiritual leader, to visit Iran. Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with him. From October onward, Hezbollah dispatched its elite guerrilla forces to Syria, and more than 4,000 Hezbollah militants participated in the war with the Syrian government forces by the end of 2012.[4]  Hezbollah militants have rich experiences in battles and they know well guerrilla warfare and street fighting in cities. Their involvement quickly reversed the situation in the battlefield. Since early 2013, the Syrian government troops, together with Hezbollah militants, regained important towns of Holmes and Purcell and launched encirclement to Aleppo. The government forces suffered a casualty of more than 20,000 people in battles, 500 Hezbollah militants lost their lives and over 10,000 FSA rebels were killed. Because of brutality of the civil war in Syria, over 100,000 people were expected to have lost their lives and most of them were innocent civilians. [5]


With the FSA suffering from heavy losses, how will the situation on the battlefield evolve is hard to predict: the terrorist forces, with Al Qaeda as the main force, are growing with a total number of over 20,000. It is unprecedented that such a large number of terrorists are stationed in one country. These terrorist organizations include Al-Nusra Front dominated by Al Qaeda Iraqi Branch, Ahrar al-Sham controlled by the Sinai Peninsula Jihad Salafi faction, Liwa al-Tawhid with the Al Qaeda Arab Peninsula branch as the main force, and the Liwa al-Islam with mixed forces from Al Qaeda Afghan-Pakistani headquarter jihad volunteers and Chechenya terrorists. The terrorist organizations obtained government forces’ weapons and ammunition, gained logistical supplies by capturing government warehouses, and got substantial funds by looting the rich and levying taxes on the public. Therefore, they have already had firm footholds in Syria.


Taking into account the political and military contests between the Syrian government and opposition forces from both home and abroad over the past two and a half years, Bashar al-Assad survived the crisis by withstanding pressure to step down and relying on Russian diplomatic support and Iranian comprehensive assistance to outmaneuver the United States and wipe out the anti-government rebel forces. Bashar al-Assad understands well that, firstly, it is the United States, rather than Europe, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, which poses lethal threats to his ruling position; secondly, policies pursued by both the United States and Europe vacillate, sometimes they favor a “rapid falling-down of Bashar”, and sometimes they turn to a “slow political transition” in Syria; and finally, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries would like to see an early toppling of the Bashar al-Assad regime, yet without Washington’s leadership, their wishes cannot be fulfilled.


The Initiative of “Chemical Weapons for Peace” has Brought Hope for a Political Solution in Syria


The ultimate goal of US involvement in the Syrian crisis is to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime and break up the strategic alliance between Syria and Iran. The Syrian situation evolved from an internal political turmoil to a civil war with extensive involvement by outside forces. Such a situation provides a good opportunity for the United States and Europe to implement their neo-interventionism. In leading the “Arab Spring” process, the United States has successfully made Libya an experiment field for its neo-interventionism. The main approaches include: to get the UN Security Council’s authorization, such as pressing the Security Council to pass Resolutions No. 1970 and No. 1973 so as to legalize sanctions and military intervention; to initiate an international conference of “Friends of Libya” in order to form an world alliance for a regime-change and de-Westernize the military intervention by inviting Arab and Muslim countries to join in; to push the international criminal court to issue arrest warrant to Gaddafi in order to show an image of judicial justice; and to step back and play a “back seat” role in military actions against Libya and let Britain, France and others play the leading role and share the costs. Through its cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Muslim countries, Washington created “Tunisia-Egypt model” as well as the “Yemen model”, and by implementing these models, regime change can be achieved without resorting to military intervention.


When Syria was plunged in anti-Bashar street movement, the United States and Europe made full use of this opportunity to implement the new interventionism. They took concerted actions with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other countries by putting political pressures, resorting to economic sanctions and isolation and demonizing Syria through media. However they failed to force Bashar al-Assad to hand over power. Under such a circumstance, the United States, taking into account the particularity in Syrian situation and learning from experience and lessons in “Libya model”, conducted extensive coordination with its Western allies and regional partners, and tabled to the UN Security Council three draft resolutions with veiled intention for regime change and the use of force (rejected by Russia and China).


Judging the situation in battlefields, it is difficult for the oppo-sition forces in Syria to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime by themselves, because their numerous factional infightings restricted unified command and coordinated action, coupled with their lack of heavy weapons and air support. That makes it more necessary to rely on outside military intervention to change the balance of force in battlefields. In order to have a necessary military strike without UN Security Council authorization, the United States, Europe and their regional allies pushed the UN General Assembly to pass overwhelmingly three resolutions concerning “the Bashar al-Assad regime’s loss of legitimacy in its ruling”, and two resolutions were passed by the UN Human Rights Council condemning the Bashar al-Assad regime’s “violations of human rights”. All this serves the purpose of justifying their military actions against Syria.[6]


Since 2013, the situation in Syria has gone beyond Washington’s expectation. Terrorist forces and extremist factions of Islamic fundamentalism have seen an unprecedented rise. They have similar political and military influences over the FSA, and they have greater religious impacts. There is a possibility that, in the “post-Bashar era”, they will either share state power with the FSA or even control the country by themselves. Some politicians and scholars in the United States and Europe, in their advices to the Obama Administration, pointed out the growing terrorist forces in Syria are not in the US and European interests. They believe that the Bashar al-Assad regime should not be toppled in haste, in this way government forces could deal heavy blows against terrorist forces.[7] They admit that the Bashar al-Assad regime, objectively speaking, is helping the United States and Europe against terrorism, and fierce fighting between the Syrian government and terrorists is welcomed; if these terrorists fled to the United States and Europe, they would threaten their homeland security, and huge resources are required in counter-terrorism. Judging the US policy on Syria in the first half of 2013, people could see that Barack Obama, in addition to integrating external anti-Bashar political forces and condemning Bashar al-Assad of “repression of the civilian population”, has not made decision whether to resort to military means to “conclude the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime”. When UN officials and US and European media broke the news in March and May that the Syrian government forces used chemical weapons against civilians in Aleppo, Idlib and Holms, President Barack Obama gave orders repeatedly to American intelligence agency to investigate, rather than threaten the use of force against Syria.


On August 21, 2013, the Syrian government forces started wipe-out action against the opposition force in Guta, an area controlled by the opposition in eastern suburb of Damascus. A few hours later, the organization “Doctors Without Borders” and the Syrian opposition disclosed that 3,600 civilians suffered from chemical weapons attacks, resulting in 1,429 casualties. In late August, intelligence agencies from Britain, Israel, France, Germany, and Turkey accused the Syrian government forces’ use of chemical weapons against civilians. The US intelligence agency confirmed alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. [8] The situation put Obama in a dilemma. On the one hand, the United States would like to see continued fighting between the government forces and terrorists, and Washington is not ready to overthrow Bashar al-Assad until a strong secular opposition leader is found. On the other hand, accusations against the Syrian government forces for its use of chemical weapons against civilians have broken the moral bottom line consistently adhered to by Washington. The United States must make a strong response, and make its position known to its allies and to the world. In addition, Turkey, Jordan and other regional partners of the United States are overwhelmed by flooding refugees, rising fundamentalism and burgeoning ethnic separatism, they strongly urged the United States to play a “leading role” to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime as soon as possible, so as to consolidate the regional alliance which aims at containing Iran and preventing the destruction to stability and political rule of those Arab monarchy countries.


After receiving intelligence reports on Syria’s use of chemical weapons, President Obama considered a limited military strike against Syria and asked for Congressional authorization since the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons posed threats to US national security. Some Republican lawmakers thought a limited military strike was not sufficient to eliminate threats of chemical weapons to the US army in the Middle East and Israel. They asked Obama to overthrow Bashar al-Assad immediately. Speaker John Boehner of the House of Representatives and other Republican leaders supported the use of force against Syria. At the same time, the United States took measures to deploy its naval and air forces in the East Mediterranean region and the Red Sea.


It is the Russia’s diplomacy which reversed the situation at such a critical time when the United States was ready to use force against Syria. To relax the tension and push for a political solution, Russia, on September 9, proposed international supervision on Syrian chemical weapons, and the Syrian government agreed and started its accession to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The United States and Russia reached a framework agreement in Geneva on September 14, in which Syria was asked to submit, within a week, a list of chemical weapons and to complete the destruction of chemical weapons by June 2014. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted the Resolution No. 2118 on September 27, demanding Syria cooperate with the OPCW in destroying its chemical weapons stocks and warning Syria of severe consequences in case Syria failed its implementation of the Resolution. For the first time the UN Security Council approved, by Resolution No. 2118, the roadmap for Syrian political transition reached in Geneva in June 2012, and called for a second meeting, at an early date, in Geneva to implement the roadmap. On October 1, UN inspectors arrived in Syria. On October 14, Syria joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Convention took effect to Syria. On October 20, special envoy Brahimi for both the UN and the Arab League declared that the second Geneva conference will be held in late November. The door so far is open for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.


The reason for Russia’s timely diplomatic maneuvering was that the Syrian crisis involves Russia’s vital interests. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has seen its influence declining gradually in the Middle East. Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Palestine are no longer Russia’s “stakeholders”, and Iran and Syria are the only two “pivot countries” left. If the Bashar al-Assad regime falls down, Russia will find it difficult to exert influence to the Arab world by its only reliance with Iran. In its maneuvering with the United States and Europe in the Middle East, Russia will lack necessary political, economic and diplomatic resources. Therefore, to keep the Bashar al-Assad regime intact becomes the priority in Russia’s Middle East policy, and the key lies in a political settlement of the Syrian crisis.


The Political Solution Faces Many Difficulties and the post-Bashar Syria will Remain Volatile


The Syria crisis concerns interests of many parties who cherish different objectives. The political settlement process is bound to be bumpy. The best interests for the Bashar al-Assad regime is to maintain its rule so that it does not reject a political solution; The basic objective is to get itself involved in political talks together with the opposition and external forces. On the one hand, the Syrian government expects the international community who stands for peace and opposes wars to play a forceful role in preventing external military intervention of the United States. On the other hand, the Syrian government, by relying on support of Iran and Russia, wants to destroy the FSA and other opposition forces, and to guard against military intervention from external forces in future. Syria’s agreement of international supervision to its chemical weapons as well as their destruction will prevent the country from US military strike, and win for the country more time for greater maneuvering by showing its willingness for a political settlement of the crisis.


The United States gave a conditional consent to political solution of the Syrian issue. In June 2013, the US Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized a political transition led by the Syrian people, meaning that Bashar al-Assad must go, and a transitional governance body be established to conduct a democratic, transparent and fair general election under international supervision. [9] The United States hopes to work out a political roadmap at the second Geneva meeting to exclude Bashar al-Assad from political arena and will impose this solution to the Syrian government. If rejected, the United States will put the use of force on agenda again.


At present, Syria’s concessions on the issue of chemical weapons have not removed the possibility that the United States will use force, but rather have postponed the possibility. Washington could find many excuses for its military action, such as making fuss on political transition and on the issue of chemical weapons. Any rejection or disagreement from Syria could be turned to be a reason for American military action. For instance, the United States has required Bashar al-Assad to take responsibility for chemical weapon attacks, and pushed the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against Bashar al-Assad while pressing coordination from the Syrian government; Bashar al-Assad has expressed his desire to take part in the 2014 general election, and by that time Washington could resort to military means under the pretext that political roadmap reached at the second Geneva meeting was not implemented. To take all these factors into a comprehensive consideration, the rapid expansion of terrorist and extremist forces in Syria and their seizure of power in the country is the only condition for Bashar al-Assad to prolong his political life. If the United States is able to successfully integrate the Syrian secular political force and the armed opposition into a relatively unified force, then Washington will launch an anti-Bashar military intervention together with its allies and in turn foster pro-American regime in Syria.


The United States will make full use of the second meeting in Geneva and work hard to achieve a favorable outcome. Russia, as one of main initiators for the conference, will adhere to its position that Bashar al-Assad may participate in the “political transition”, and that Bashar al-Assad’s presidency should be decided by Syrian voters. Therefore, Bashar al-Assad’s position in the political transition process remains the key in the game between the United States and Russia. Russia’s yielding to the United States means that American military action will not be prevented firmly by Russia. Moreover, once the United States started its military action in Syria, Russia, even with strong opposition, will not jump into a military confrontation with the United States and deteriorate their bilateral relations for the sake of Bashar al-Assad. The second Geneva conference may break up because of the stalemate between Russia and the United States on the fate of Bashar al-Assad. Then, the United States will turn its policy focus to topple Bashar al-Assad at a proper time.


The Syrian government is already beset with crises even it has more reliable economic and military assistance from Iran. However, Iran is unlikely to send troops to Syria when Bashar al-Assad is caught in a dangerous situation. Bashar’s political survival depends on two important and sensitive junctures in the first half of 2014: the time before election in Syria, because the United States does not allow Bashar al-Assad to gain his ruling legality through the ballot; the end of June when the UN Security Council deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons arrives, and the United States might accuse the Syrian concealment of chemical weapons, or take legal proceedings against Bashar al-Assad and demand a response from the Syrian government within time limit.


Military actions by Washington against Syria will put the Bashar al-Assad regime in danger. However, the situation in Syria in the post-Bashar era remains volatile for the following reasons:


First, infighting is inevitable among factions in a newly-formed regime on the allocation of power and resources. Political crises within the system are expected to erupt continuously and the new regime’s internal cohesion as well as its governance effectiveness will be affected. This will be manifested mainly between the political opposition and the armed opposition, and the latter in particular will press for an allocation of power in the light of “contribution” made in the toppling of the Bashar al-Assad regime.


Second, soon after a new government is in office, it is expected the new government will take measures to expose and punish officials of the Bashar al-Assad regime, including key members at all levels in the Ba’ath Party. Numerous political, military and economic elites of the Assad regime are from the Alawites, who, during 4-decade-long ruling of Assad family, have gained a higher social status and more material benefits than the Sunnis. The Alawites will not be willing to lose its ruling status and a variety of interests. They are fearful of being persecuted by a forthcoming regime. They will refuse to surrender their weapons and will stand against the new regime.


Third, unhappy to see Syria to become a pro-US country, Iran will give open or covert support to remnants from the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Alawites in their anti-government military actions. The Alawites are a branch of the Shia Islam, and Iran makes it its national policy and religious mission to support the Shiites over the world. Hezbollah in Lebanon will continue its military and religious presence in Syria, and it will conduct a guerrilla warfare, together with Bashar remnants and the Alawites, against the new government.


Fourth, Syria-based branches of Al Qaeda and the Islamic fun-damentalists and extremists will not allow a pro-US secular regime to rule the country. These groups are already deeply rooted in Syria and they will make Syria a major Jihad battlefield.


Fifth, the Syrian crisis has activated transnational Kurdish movement for independence. With support from the Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Iran, the Kurdish people in Syria will fight for their high-degreed autonomy. In particular they will learn from political experiences of the Iraqi Kurds and strive to build a “state within a state” in the living quarters of the Syrian Kurds.


In short, the Syrian crisis has brought enormous sufferings to the local people. The civil war has plunged the country to a mess. A massive economic and social reconstruction with huge investment is needed to rebuild the country. It will be difficult to stabilize quickly the situation, to resume a sustainable economic growth and to improve people’s livelihood, no matter who is in power. Whether new officials will take people’s interests into consideration and carry out corruption-free governance, or whether they will arouse new public discontent, these are questions to be answered. In the post-Bashar era, with no improvement in public order and people’s living standard, more and more people will sympathize with or even give support to the forces opposing the new government. The new administration cannot have its political foundation solidly based, and Syria might be bogged down in long-term turmoil and even a warring situation.


Source: China International Studies November/December 2013 p79-96

[1]Dong Manyuan is Senior Research Fellow and Vice President of China Institute of International Studies.

 “Algeria’s state of emergency is officially lifted”, Bloomberg, February 24, 2011,; “Algeria repeals emergency law – Middle East”, Al Jazeera, February 23, 2011,

[2] “Sudan’s Bashir will not stand in next election: party official”, AFP, February 21, 2011,

[3] “Iraqi prime minister won’t run for third term”, MSNBC, February 5, 2001,

[4] “Hezbollah Widens the Syrian War”, The New Yorker, May 26, 2013,

[5] “Death Toll in Syria Rises to 100,000, UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon Says”, July 25, 2013,

[6] “How the U.S. might justify an ‘illegal’ military strike against Syria without UN authorization”, National Post, August 30, 2013.

[7] John Glaser, “US Designates Syrian Rebel Faction as Terrorist Group”, December 10, 2012,; Samia Nakhoul, “Analysis: No happy outcome in Syria as conflict turns into proxy war”, Reuters, August 1, 2012,

[8] “Text of U.S. Assessment on Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons”,

[9] “John Kerry says Syria’s Assad must go”, Reuters, February 25, 2013,; “John Kerry: Syria President Bashar Al Assad must go”, GulfNews, May 9, 2013,