Jimmy Carter: A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis
[...] In May 2015, a group of global leaders known as the Elders visited Moscow, where we had detailed discussions with the American ambassador, former President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, former Prime Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and representatives of international think tanks, including the Moscow branch of the Carnegie Center.I'm not a Jimmy Carter fan. But if you read the whole thing, for the full context, it actually makes sense. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Carter may be right about this. It should be seriously considered.
They pointed out the longstanding partnership between Russia and the Assad regime and the great threat of the Islamic State to Russia, where an estimated 14 percent of its population are Sunni Muslims. Later, I questioned President Putin about his support for Mr. Assad, and about his two sessions that year with representatives of factions from Syria. He replied that little progress had been made, and he thought that the only real chance of ending the conflict was for the United States and Russia to be joined by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in preparing a comprehensive peace proposal. He believed that all factions in Syria, except the Islamic State, would accept almost any plan endorsed strongly by these five, with Iran and Russia supporting Mr. Assad and the other three backing the opposition. With his approval, I relayed this suggestion to Washington.
For the past three years, the Carter Center has been working with Syrians across political divides, armed opposition group leaders and diplomats from the United Nations and Europe to find a political path for ending the conflict. This effort has been based on data-driven research about the Syrian catastrophe that the center has conducted, which reveals the location of different factions and clearly shows that neither side in Syria can prevail militarily.
The recent decision by Russia to support the Assad regime with airstrikes and other military forces has intensified the fighting, raised the level of armaments and may increase the flow of refugees to neighboring countries and Europe. At the same time, it has helped to clarify the choice between a political process in which the Assad regime assumes a role and more war in which the Islamic State becomes an even greater threat to world peace. With these clear alternatives, the five nations mentioned above could formulate a unanimous proposal. Unfortunately, differences among them persist.
The involvement of Russia and Iran is essential. Mr. Assad’s only concession in four years of war was giving up chemical weapons, and he did so only under pressure from Russia and Iran. Similarly, he will not end the war by accepting concessions imposed by the West, but is likely to do so if urged by his allies.
Mr. Assad’s governing authority could then be ended in an orderly process, an acceptable government established in Syria, and a concerted effort could then be made to stamp out the threat of the Islamic State. [...]