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Satterfield on Syria

Children attend their first class immediately after they got registered at the school in Hazema North Raqqa, Syria, Aug. 21, 2017.

The process of stabilizing Syria cannot be achieved through military and security actions alone.

The situation in Syria a year ago was marked with rampant violence, a humanitarian disaster, and the flight of displaced persons. The situation now compared to then is improved, said U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield. Thanks to “the role of the de-escalation zones. . .the violence is down dramatically. The generation of new internally displaced persons is dramatically reduced and, equally important, those displaced outside of Syria’s boundaries have begun to return in significant numbers.”

Moreover, “the defeat of ISIS is well underway,” declared Acting Assistant Secretary Satterfield. The reduction of ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq has progressed dramatically.

But the process of stabilizing Syria cannot be achieved through military and security actions alone. “Only a credible political process that reflects the will of the majority of Syrians can achieve that goal,” stressed Acting Secretary Satterfield. The U.S. and its allies remain committed to humanitarian aid, and that will continue to flow. But the reconstruction of Syria depends very much on establishing a credible political process.

This process, stressed Acting Assistant Secretary Satterfield “is critical not just to us, to the likeminded. It ought to be critical to the regime and it ought to be critical to supporters of the regime such as Russia.” Without the political process, there will be no international engagement in Syria which is vital.

The United States does not believe at the end of this process that Bashar al-Assad should remain in power in Syria. He has lost his legitimacy and his right to rule. But that is a decision for the Syrian people to make, said Acting Assistant Secretary Satterfield.

It is time to address the political process as quickly as possible with the end goal of an intact, non-partitioned, independent Syria, which is not a proxy for any external state, including Iran.