Editor's note: Randa Slim is a research fellow at the New America Foundation, a think tank that looks for innovative solutions along the ideological spectrum, and a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. She has conducted research on the Syrian opposition and has been a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Programme and other organizations. The views expressed in this article are her own.
By Randa Slim - Special to CNN
The double veto cast by Russia and China at the United Nations Security Council on Saturday represents a clarifying moment in the Syrian uprisings.
At the 2012 Munich Security Conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, "We don't know what the endgame will be until we start the game." Well, fasten your seatbelt - the game over Syria has started.
The Syrian conflict is no longer just about a brutal dictator repressing peaceful protesters who are demanding what every Arab desires: dignity, freedom, and an opportunity at a decent life. The Syrian revolution is now the fault line in Middle Eastern politics, through which U.S.-Russian competition, the U.S.-Iran conflict, the Iran-Saudi regional rivalry, and the Shiite-Sunni ages-old conflict will play out.
To start with, this endgame had a minimal chance of success. Giving up power peacefully is not an Assad family tradition. Both father, the late Hafez Assad, and son, Bashar al-Assad, have shown their willingness to use any violent means at their disposal to quell internal dissent. This was the case in Hama in 1982 when Hafez Assad sent his military, including warplanes, to crush an Islamist uprising, killing an estimated 10,000 people and razing one-third of the city buildings. In Homs, Hama, Idlib, Daraa, and numerous other Syrian cities, the son is now living up to his father's murderous legacy.
What the protesters and activists on the ground will take from the double veto is one lesson: Down with politics - this is a military fight, and it is ours to win.