News You Really Need To See: “Iran’s Plan for Syria Aims to Woo Saudi Arabia and the West”

“Iran’s Plan for Syria Aims to Woo Saudi Arabia and the West”

The Financial Times, June 8, 2014

[Former UN Special Envoy to Syria] Mr Brahimi has told the UN Security Council of an Iranian proposal for a political settlement in Syria.  The plan calls for a ceasefire and creation of a cabinet of ‘national unity’.  Political groups based in Syria would be allowed to participate, but the opposition in exile – which was present in Geneva – would be excluded.  The Syrian constitution would be ‘reviewed’, with a view to reducing the president’s powers.  … The proposal also grants Mr Assad and other top Alawite officials legal immunity, and the right to establish a new political party in postwar Syria.  Iran believes all sides should stop searching for a political solution from above.  Instead, it is suggesting reforms from below: local ceasefires making way for a new settlement, which would maintain the ‘Shia Crescent,’ a strategic alliance that runs through Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad, and Tehran.  Iran’s diplomacy over Syria is reminiscent of the role that the Syrian regime played in Lebanon after the 15-year civil war ended in 1990. … This would entail a Saudi-Iranian understanding over Syria, similar to the one reached by late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad and Saudi Arabia over Lebanon in the 1990s.  Like Lebanon, this solution would be based on power sharing between the Alawite minority and Sunni majority.  Mr Assad would remain as president but he would have to rule with a strong Sunni prime minister, presumably drawn from the domestic opposition, who would hold executive powers, held by the presidency itself since 1970.  The speaker of the parliament would be a Kurd.  Christians and Druze would also be represented.”

Quickie Analysis:  An interesting idea with historical parallels.  Not that Lebanon has been an unqualified success story, but the deal did stop the blood-letting and allow Lebanon to rebuild.  (Note: you may need to register a free account to view Financial Times articles.)

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