Sunday, November 27, 2011

Syrian pawn

Don't be taken in by the apparent concern of the Arab League for the poor, suffering Syrian people. This is a strategic move by the Sunni Muslim world against the Shia. The Arab League is overwhelmingly Sunni, and currently it is backed by Turkey that is also Sunni Muslim. After supporting Pres. Assad of Syria, Turkey under PM Erdogan has now changed sides and supports the Arab League initiative to impose severe sanctions against Syria. On the other side are the Shia, i.e. Iran, Syria, that is an Iranian dependency, and Lebanon under Hizbollah.

For many centuries the Ottoman and Persian Empires were rivals for hegemony over the weak Arabs. That competition dwindled thru history as the Western powers took over, especially due to oil in the Gulf region. But, with the Iranian revolution and the ascendency of the Shia Ayatollahs and the move from secularism towards Islam in Turkey under Erdogan, that rivalry has returned. Turkey now wishes to be seen as the champion of the Sunnis, and since the Arabs are weak, Erdogan has seized the opportunity offered by the Arab League move against Syria. By targeting Syria while it is weakened by the internal insurrection, the Sunnis hope to force it back into their camp, which would be a major victory for the Sunnis and in fact for the West. Even though we do not know what the outcome of such a maneuver will finally be and whether or not the Iranians will make a counter-move to protect their investiment in Syria, the reduced effectiveness of Iran in the Middle East would be a net gain for Israel and for the US. But, note that Israel plays no direct role in this inter-Muslim rivalry.

In fact, the possibility of France, historically the guarantor of Christian Lebanon, taking a major role in this move to overthrow Assad as stated by Pres. Sarkozy, and the presence of a US aircraft carrier, the USS George W. Bush, off the Syrian coast, are major indicators to Iran, Russia and China that now the West means business in Syria. In effect Syria is Iran's Achilles heel, the weak point in its defensive armor. Don't expect a similar strategy as in Libya, but this time the Arabs themselves will play the lead role, under Turkish and Western protection, in trying to replace Assad. It could even become a direct confrontation between Turkey and Iran.

If the Assad Alawite regime in Syria were to fall, Iran would lose control over Syria and would no longer be able to supply Hizbollah with the weapons that it has delivered to them in the past. In the event of a war of Israel with Iran, even if Hizbollah were involved, it is unlikely that Syria would then also be involved and Hizbollah, not to mention Hamas, would not be able to be resupplied by Iran. So the removal of Syria from the Shia camp would be a major positive achievement of the Sunni Arabs that would also benefit Israel and the West.


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