According to international media reports, Russia and Turkey are promoting the idea of safe zones in Syria. Under these proposals, the areas controlled by pro Assad regime forces and the rebels would be separated by “security lines,” and hostilities on both sides would end.
This, of course, does not include ISIS and Al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafi-jihadist run areas, as these elements would never agree to negotiate with anyone.
The above proposals essentially freeze frame the current situation in Syria. They offer de facto recognition of rebel control in 4 regions. The Assad regime in Damascus has said it supports the idea.
There are many serious challenges that stand in the way of this initiative being implemented. Nevertheless, it could be the first time that an early blueprint for a federal solution in Syria is endorsed by the Assad regime.
A number of commentators have called for a federal set-up as a means to end the conflict that has claimed some half a million lives, and created the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Others have suggested that Syria – which disintegrated to all intents and purposes years ago – should be partitioned into separate states to reflect the new reality.
Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Noam Tibon, the former Commander of the Israel Defense Force’s Northern Formation, has called for the formation of Sunni, Shi’ite, Kurdish, and Alawite states in both Syria and Iraq, following the defeat of ISIS. His plan is available here.
For Israel, the paramount strategic interest here is what happens in Syria’s south. Jerusalem has repeatedly signalled that it will not tolerate the establishment of Iran-led Shi’ite axis forces in Syria’s south under any future arrangement.
That means that Israel would be prepared to strike any attempt by Iran’s Islamic Republican Guards Corps, Hezbollah, or Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias to set up bases in south Syria, or approach the Israeli border.