Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow this week. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.)
It’s an open question whether the new US-Russian initiative to convene a peace conference over Syria can work or not. But it’s the right move at the right time. It was welcomed by Lakhdar Brahimi, the beleaguered United Nations representative on Syria, who’s hinted that he might resign over the diplomatic impasse thus far. “This is the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time,” said Brahimi.
The peace conference would be based on a 2012 joint resolution issued by the United States, Russia and others.
The bombs-away crowd isn’t happy. Elliot Abrams, the neoconservative hardliner who worked for George W. Bush and then somehow found his way into the Council on Foreign Relations, issued a fiery blast at President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, who met in Moscow this week with President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov:
Commentary by The Secular Jurist: This is the right move by the Obama Administration. Brash unilateral actions to dispose tyrannical dictators without comprehensive strategies for long-term political stability, however justified, are recipes for disaster. Eliminating Saddam Hussein pushed Iraq into costly sectarian warfare and removed the greatest regional check against Iranian aggression. Egypt is a volatile quagmire in the wake of Hosni Mubarak as Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood thwarted secular reforms and implemented an authoritarian theocratic state. And, to a lesser extend, Libya is also suffering similar internal conflict as it struggles to build a democracy after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
The Syrian situation is extremely complex, with numerous factions competing for power and all the neighboring nations having a stake in the outcome. But, first and foremost, the greatest danger is chaotic destabilization that would create an open battlefield for escalating the Sunni-Shi’a conflict and lure Israel into preemptive action. The connection between Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon must be monitored closely as well as the activities of rogue elements like al-Qaeda. The best chance for a more peaceful resolution, if possible, is international coordination by the major players – namely, the U.S., the E.U., Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.