Landis: No Good Surrender Options For Syrian Rebels

Jan 6, 2017


A cease-fire backed by Russia and Turkey is falling apart in Syria, and that leaves few good options for rebels in that country who are fighting against president Bashar al-Assad

Joshua Landis, the head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told KGOU’s World Views that Assad intends to take back all Syrian land currently held by rebels. Meanwhile, Turkey’s involvement in the cease-fire is an indication that country will no longer back the rebels.

“Assad isn’t going to accept the surrender of a lot of these guys, particularly the more jihadist members,” Landis said. “Assad wants them to flee the country or he’s going to come and kill them. And that’s the dilemma.”

Landis said rebel groups, including ISIS, occupy about 50 percent of Syria’s land. He counts over one thousand rebel groups in Syria, but only seven signed the cease-fire.

In the meantime, the United States is engaged in bombing ISIS-held territory and recently killed 30 senior Al Qaeda officials who were suspected of planning terrorist attacks against the West.

“The U.S. is flying over the skies of Syria, bombing things. And so is Assad and the Russians. So it’s very difficult to know who is where, who is a signatory to this because jihadist groups are marbled throughout the rebel territory,” Landis said.

Landis does not see a political solution to end Syria’s bloody civil war. Too many rebels want an Islamic state that supports Sharia law. Assad and religious minorities want nothing to do with an Islamic state in which they would become second-class citizens. At the same time, Assad sees the rebels as traitors.

“It’s not a situation where there’s a political solution that you could say, jeez, everybody is going to put down their guns and they’re going to figure out how to live together,” Landis said.

In the end, the rebels have two options and neither of them are good. They can either flee to Turkey, where they are unwelcome, or they can continue to fight.

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