The quote is from the first of Rania Khalek's two-part report on the Syrian-led reconciliation process in Syria, which have played the deciding role in bringing the Syrian war to end -- a little-known fact that is only slowly coming to light. The internet is now breathlessly awaiting the second installment (well, at least the part of the internet that pays close attention to the war) but the first one, published August 2 at Max Blumenthal's Gray Zone Project, corrects so many misperceptions it's already created an uproar in the Syrian War Twittersphere.
The report is titled Meet the Mystery Fixer Who Negotiated Syria Out of Seven Years of War: "How a nearly unknown businessman named Khaled al Ahmad became Damascus’ secret liaison to the West and quietly dealt Syria’s grinding war to a close."
Ya mean it wasn't the Russians who did it? I did note the report corrects misperceptions -- although certainly the Russian government got behind al Ahmad's efforts and greatly aided the reconciliation negotiations, and of course it took battlefield victories to provide enough breathing room for the reconciliations to take place. The unwavering support of President Bashar al Assad for al Ahmad's efforts is also a critical factor, as Khalek makes clear.
But I find the overarching importance of the report is that it shows al Ahmad's approach, with intellectual assistance from journalist Nir Rosen (see the report), has implications for many conflict situations outside Syria. So it's a great irony that a country that has suffered so much from armed conflict is producing an approach to conflict resolution that can become a model for all nations to follow. As Twittersphere denizen EHSANI2 notes:
With all mixed reactions to @RaniaKhalek article below, it’s important to stay focused on the subject of reconciliation as a policy tool compared to the national land top down approach of Geneva that was pushed by a number of policy makers at the time. Small is beautifulIndeed; al Ahmad's successes are a triumph for localism, a subject that is of great interest to me. So in this post I'll skip the revelations about his role to quote from passages in Khalek's report that describe her eyewitnessing of how the localist approach turned the tide in one Syrian region. Before the quotes, a couple notes:
> EHSANI2 writes that al Ahmad is an Alawite not, as Khalek speculated, a Sunni Muslim.
> The localism Khalek describes is obviously not based on ethnic/religious or tribal or clan affiliations; it's about Syrians coming together as Syrians. But here I sound a cautionary note. Localism makes sense only within the context of a nation-state. How, then, to thread the camel of localism through the needle's eye of nationhood? Thailand's late king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, had the full answer but in one sentence localism must be grounded in self-reliance else it's faux localism; as such it's extremely vulnerable to balkanizing forces.
From "Meet the Mystery Fixer Who Negotiated Syria Out of Seven Years of War" by Rania Khalek: