Change the course

File - Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Syrian government is determined to press ahead with a presidential election, especially after the latest announcement that candidacies for the “race” will begin to be accepted later this month.

It apparently makes no difference to the regime whether the election will take place in parts of the country that are held by the rebels or whether millions of displaced Syrians will be able to vote. The only sure thing is that President Bashar Assad will receive a “mandate” to rule for another seven years.

Damascus doesn’t care whether the election will affect the Geneva negotiation process, because the regime’s policy is clear and unambiguous: re-elect the president and crush the rebels militarily.

In contrast, the rebels still suffer from a lack of coordination as they wait for foreign backers to provide them with “sophisticated arms;” the opposition is in disarray, unable to inspire confidence among Syrians inside and outside the country.

As things stand, the regime is poised to continue 2014 with a string of political and military achievements, having adhered to a clear policy of victory at any cost.

For the opposition, it’s time to listen to the many Syrians who are demanding a change of course. It’s time to admit that the opposition has been going about things the wrong way, whether this has to do with managing military matters, putting forward a political message, or getting much-needed humanitarian assistance to war-stricken areas.

If the leaders of the opposition are unable to learn from their mistakes, then their future, and the future of Syria, will be very bleak.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 11, 2014, on page 7.




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