Four things Syria must do after Bashar al-Assad

It’s not too early to consider the way forward for Syria after Bashar al-Assad. Conflicts in Libya, Iraq, and elsewhere illustrate that by the time the battle reaches the capital, the night is far spent.

A post-Assad peace and reconstruction framework would require a significant departure from business as usual within Syria. Examples in other countries show that a transition will be greatly aided if Syrians can do these four things:

1. Be inclusive

Roula Naeimeh/Reuters
A a Syrian woman holds the iftar meal she received as aid for Syrian refugees living in Lebanon in the north Lebanese town of Wadi Khaled, July 25. Syrian nationals continue to arrive in Lebanon as fighting in Damascus between anti-government rebels and government forces continues. Op-ed contributor Kurt Shillinger spells out four things Syrians must do in a post-Bashar al-Assad transition.

As the South African transition in the early 1990s illustrated, bringing all parties to the table is essential. Both Iraq and the protracted peace process in Burundi – in the volatile Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa – underscored the perils of exclusion.

Syria is emerging from four decades of brutal minority rule. The society is fragmented into nearly four dozen ethnic groups and a plethora of competing political groups. Without meaningful participation from, say, Assad’s Baathists or the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah, in transitional and constitutional negotiations, building social and political unity will prove frustrating, if not impossible. Leaving these groups out could also provoke more violence.

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