Monday, June 23, 2014

Syrian consequences

Some consequences of the civil war in Syria are gradually emerging.  A not well known fact is that the movement of some 5 million refugees out of Syria is not only a humanitarian problem, but has shifted the sectarian balance within Syria.  Most of those moving into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq are Sunni Muslims.  This has had the consequence of shifting the population balance within what is left of Syria in favor of the pro-Shia Alawis, they were once 12% of the population, now they must be considerably more.  And there are other serious consequences of the Sunni wave into the adjacent countries, as well as further afield.
In Jordan the influx of ca. 1 million Sunnis has shifted the balance away from the Palestinians, who were ca. 70% of the population.  If the Syrians stay in Jordan, as seems most likely, then King Abdullah will be much more entrenched in his Kingdom.  SImilarly, the influx of ca. 1 million Sunnis into Lebanon has shifted the balance against the Shia and Hizbollah there, leading to the unusual outcome that while Hizbollah is fighting in Syria to support Pres. Assad's regime, the refugees they are causing will result in the undermining of their own position in Lebanon.  The influx of maybe 2 million Sunnis into Turkey does not have that much of an impact because Turkey is a much larger country, but in Iraq 1 million Sunni refugees  has the effect of enlarging the Sunni power base and unifying Syria and Iraq, just as the ISIS Islamist rebels are trying to do. 
One other consequence of the Syrian conflict may be the long-delayed emergence of a Kurdish state, namely Kurdistan.  The Kurds have been called the largest minority group in the world (45 million) without a state of their own.  There are Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.  Now that the ISIS rebels have destablized Iraq, the Iraqi Government has lost control not only of the central Sunni provinces, but also the northern Kurdish provinces.  The Peshmurga Kurdish fighters are formidable and well armed.  They have captured Kirkuk, which is the center of the northern oil fields.  It was once a largely Kurdish city, but in the Anfal campaign of the mid-1990s Saddam Hussein deported and killed large numbers of Kurds in an attempt to Arabize the northern regions of Iraq.  Now that process is being reversed, and the Peshmurga have effectively held off the ISIS forces, who in any case are more interested in defeating the Shia than bothering with the Kurds.  
If the Iraqi Kurds then declare the independence of Kurdistan, it is likely that the Kurds in Syria will join them.  But Turkey may consider this a causus belli and go to war against Kurdistan in order to prevent their own large Kurdish minority from joining Kurdistan, which would mean a loss of a significant portion of eastern Turkey.  We cannot predict the future, but the process of separating out the various sectarian and ethnic groups seems like a process of reversing the former meddling of the imperialist colonial powers of Britain and France.  
The wave of refugees from Syria, the largest refugee crisis in the world, are now beginning to arrive in Europe.  On rickety boats they are crossing the Mediterranean and arriving in Greece, Italy, France and Spain and then to the UK and as far afield as Australia and the USA.  They represent a further increase in the number of Muslims in Western coutnries and a further increase in anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity.
One of the major consequences of the Syrian conflagration that is good for Israel is that the Syrian Government is taking the opportunity to flush out and destroy the so-called Palestinian refugee camps, where they had kept the Sunni Palestinians cooped up for 65 years.  On the grounds that the Palestinians sided with the Sunni opposition, even Hamas moved its headquarters out of Damascus due to opposition to the pro-Shia Assad regime, the Syrian Army and Hizbollah have been taking revenge, massacring Palestinians.  This has received almost no media attention since the western liberal media don't like reporting anything negative about the Palestinians, their favorite cause, but can you imagine the press coverage if the IDF were doing this.  But, this is far from a unique situation.  
When Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, the Palestinians there (not in refugee camps) helped them, so when the American forces chased the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait in the Gulf War of 1990, the Kuwaitis took revenge on the hated Palestinians, killing and expelling them.  When PM Rabin allowed Yasir Arafat and the PLO to return to Gaza and the West Bank from Tunisia where they had received refuge, this was a disaster for Israel, but the Tunisians heaved a great sigh of relief, glad to be rid of these trouble-makers.  Lebanon also treated the Palestinians badly because they changed the delicate ethnic balance of the country, and Palestinians were restricted by law to the camps and not even allowed to work, a law that was only recently repealed due to its inhumaneness, contrary to UN standards.  In Jordan, the Palestinains have been from the beginning Jordanian citizens, and although they are not loyal to the Hashemite Monarchy, they have been treated better there than anywhere else in the Arab world, and are not in fact refugees.  Nowhere in the Arab world are the Palestinians liked or tolerated, they are not allowed into Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States.  The place the Palestinians are treated best is in ....Israel.  All the rest is propaganda.


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