There is so little good news out of Syria these days that a frank admission of stalemate by Syria’s vice president feels like a glimmer of hope. This week, Farouq al-Sharaa told the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar that neither the rebels nor the military can win the war in Syria. The only hope for saving the country, he said, was a “historic settlement” creating a national unity government.
Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a government dominated by minority Alawites, is one person who might be able to draw together Syria’s warring factions. He is a central figure in Bashar Assad’s regime, having served the Assad family for decades. But he remains largely untainted by the regime’s reckless assault on civilians and was even rumored to have defected to Jordan.
Now that Sharaa has reappeared in Damascus, his acknowledgement that there is no military solution is either a brave stand — and possibly a suicidal one — or an effort by Russia, the Assad regime’s longtime ally, to push for a political resolution. The opposition has already dismissed his remarks as too little too late. But his comments are sparking excitement among ordinary people in Syria who see no future in either the rebels or the regime.