The latest developments in Syria point the way toward a solution to that endless war, a way that has been evident from the beginning. There were only ever 3 options:
1) The Assad regime would regain control of the entire country militarily
2) One or more rebel groups would take control of the entire country militarily
3) The country would split up
Options one and two would mean the death of thousands more, the cost of millions more in weapons and destruction, and more waves of refugees desperate to escape the carnage. Splitting the country up should have been promoted years ago, and with the evacuation of Darayya, we can now see how this would work. You have small parcels of rebel-held territory in the midst of government-held territory, you call a truce and get everyone out and into the largest rebel-held territory. Then you resettle pro-Assad refugees in the empty town. Repeat one hundred times until everyone is on the side they want to be on. Yes, lots of people lose their homes, but they are not dead and will rebuild their lives in a safe environment.
Obviously it’s not that easy. You’d have to define the borders and agree on who would administer the rebel areas. Here again recent developments indicate an answer: Turkey. With its first incursion into that wasteland that was once Syria, the Turks have cleared ISIS from part of its border. Keep going, Turks! Take more land from ISIS. Set up administrators, district be district. Work with the rebels for a handover in the future. Gradually defeat those radical groups that are out to conquer the world.
Why would Assad allow this? Because the Russians would make him. The Russians want an end to this war too. It will eventually destabilize their country as well as Western Europe if the refugee problem continues to grow. Get to work John Kerry.
There remains the problem of the Kurds. Why oh why didn’t they get their own country back in 1919? They have to be allowed to keep their territory in Syria (and Iraq), but Turkey won’t like that, nor will Iran. In my dream world I see Turkey agreeing to the principle of self-determination and letting its southeastern provinces decide whether to stay with Turkey or do what Scotland almost did and Catalonia wants to do. That ain’t gonna happen any time soon–But one problem at a time!
For more on this subject go to Partition Syria!