Syria: A Political Stalemate; an Economic Decline.
It really suits the US that the (Syrian Quagmire), according to their expression, gets stabilized, i.e.: that the political stalemate guarantees the interaction of multiple factors in order for the country to remain a quagmire that swallows what has remained of capabilities and resources, and drives away all those who are capable and willing to lift the country up.
It does not take much effort from the US to impose the stalemate, as they kept their military presence in the north-east to ensure the dismemberment of Syria economically, politically and socially. They imposed the sanctions as a deterrent that makes the legitimate movement of resources and goods to the country costly, cautious, and at its minimum limits. Hence, they provided a wide activity for the illegitimate movement that richens warlords, increases their influence, and expands resources’ channels of access to them, and those are objectively the ones who feed extremism, chaos, and division. Ensuring a de facto division, and an economic and political environment that richen warlords and impedes natural economic activity, has been the main US strategy in Syria for two years at least. It is a strategy that boasts of political settlement all the time, but works coldly to prevent this settlement through using its direct influence and effect on all extremist powers in all Syrian parties! It is still waiting for (US Sympathy) thinking that they (the US) may legitimize a fait accompli, or turn it upside down. The US will not do this nor that, first: because they are uncapable of imposing their will in the current international balance of power, and second: because the current stalemate situation opens the door widely on what they are aiming for from the beginning, which is the possibility of dividing Syria. Hunger, economic decline, the increase in the significance of the powers of chaos, the dismemberment of the country, political extremism, not responding to initiatives, and all that this reflects of the backwardness of Syrian political powers and their national narrow mindedness, are political tools for division, and all of them are achieved for the US under the current situation.
Drying out the Quagmire to Break the Stalemate
Breaking the stalemate can only be done by drying out the quagmire, and pumping new fresh water after removing stagnant water and parasites that live on it. Without doing that, there will not be any capability to prevent deterioration, and the quagmire will be able to swallow all partial solutions. The deteriorating economic situation throughout the past two years is a good example of this, as the Syrian government for example has been pushed to declare combating corruption and bragged about provisional seizure of the funds of major wealthy people, but it also opened fronts with the most prominent names of financial powers in Syria, and practically all this fuss was unnecessary and had no effect on preventing the disaster. A lot of projects have been talked about: from financing projects of alternative imports which they claimed that they replace more than 70% of imports, to supporting export and opening crossings, all the way to the modification of subsidies and e-cards, going through many meetings and photo sessions about the contracts signed with friends which (were all over the screens): flour, energy, trade, and factories. However, what was the result? At the end, Syrians reached the beginning of 2021 burdened with hunger and darkness, and even a significant portion from the last subsidized piece of bread was swallowed, as the Syrian quagmire has swallowed all projects and possibilities. Neither importers will flock to work in producing dry milk, for example, instead of importing it, because productive work space in Syria is very narrow and burdened with the power of corruption, the decline in income levels and the danger of sanctions, nor the neighboring countries own their decision to open their crossings and receive what has remained of Syrian goods under the US restrictions and the absence of a settlement, nor will friends be completely ready and able to pump more resources into a creative (environment) in coming up with ways of plundering.
There won’t be holistic solutions all at once in the situation of Syria, however, partial solutions also do not work, and only specific political steps that make the Syrian environment viable again will be useful; serious steps in political settlement that suggest the start of drying up the quagmire and allowing the Syrian society and its powers to breathe again. Any gesture of this kind will directly reflect as a relative economic recovery, and what happened in 2017 is a good example of this, where the Astana peace process crystalized, succeeded in stopping the cycles of violence, and suggested the presence of regional and international understandings that turned into concrete solutions which all Syrian parties had to respond to. It is the only year during the crisis in which the dollar exchange rate was stable and the Syrian pound stopped bleeding, as food prices decreased, energy relatively improved, Syrian industrial areas witnessed expansion in investment, and this situation continued until the last quarter of 2018, where the sanctions intensified, the Iranian credit line stopped, and the political stalemate started despite the formation of the Constitutional Committee whose work is obstructed until today.
Political stalemate leads to aggravating economic decline, so that economic decline and hunger in particular play their role to widely open the door to the chances of the country going to a place of no return. The only escape from this labyrinth will be by breaking political stalemate, and not in any way, but in specific directions. Syria needs a vivid political environment that can welcome all its citizens and benefit from their potentials (instead of threatening to confiscate their properties). It needs a table of political discussion that allows healing and moving beyond the wounds, and that offers real concessions for the benefit of society as a whole, because this is the only guarantee for the survival of sovereignty and legitimacy. Any step in that direction will revive the economic situation without the slightest (government innovation), and will allow the vivid energy of a society that once was creative to burst. This society is dying today, but its spirit is still emanating in the air despite (the surrounding rottenness).