Syria, and Egypt, the key to Middle East balance-of-power; Or Syria, the Iran influence, and regional stability:
While the people of Syria are valiantly trying to remove a ruthless dictator, a second generation of rule with little, or no liberties, or civil rights, for the general public; the United States and the rest of the world is doing little to support the people’s effort.
Assad’s unacceptable behavior is not hidden from the world, but, for some unknown reason, much less support is given to the Syrian revolution than was given Libya, or Egypt. With its large, and well educated population, one with rich and important history, the intelligentsia of the country suggests that when Assad is removed, a secular and andvanced democracy is likely to emerge.
Arab League expelled Syria due to Assad’s unacceptable behavior, the US and other nations imposed sanctions, but nothing material to affect the defeat of Assad has even been proposed. Is Syria not getting the support other Arab world revolutions got because it only has very little oil, and others do?
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While Bashar Assad is causing death and distraction among his own people, mostly among civilians who either protest against the regime, or who just happen to be in a place that Assad’s forces felt compelled to attack, the future of Syria becomes more and more critical as an element in Middle East balance of power. The revolt in Syria is very a-similar to those in other Arab countries such as Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen.
Unlike many other Arab countries, Syria is rich with history, a country that in spite two generations of Assad dictators remains cultured and civilized. In spite of the positives associated with Syria, it is, and has been for a number of years, a client state of Iran; Assad is in large part controlled by Ahmadinejad. This relationship may appear somewhat peculiar since the Iranians are Aryans, while the Syrians are Arabs; it is a feather in Ahmadinejad cap as his Ayatollah’s goal is Iran’s domination of the Islamic world. For Ahmadinejad to have in an Arab client is indeed a positive step in his quest of control.
A part of Syria’s role as Iran’s client has to do with relations with Hamas and Hezbollah, Syria is host to the headquarters of both groups, and a conduit for whatever Iran wishes to transfer to its clients. As hard as Assad proved to be with his own people, in his dealing with Iran he is a very submissive client that Ahmadinejad manipulates at will. Removal of Assad and replacing him with a democratic regime represents a harsh blow to Iran’s ambitions of Islamic World domination.
The significance of Ahmadinejad feat of recruiting Syria as a client state is impressive for a number of reasons. As was previously mentioned Iranians are Aryans, and Syrians are Arabs, there is no love lost between Aryans and Arabs. Through many years in Iran it was made very clear that Iranians are insulted if considered Arabs.
At the same time, most Arabs in the Middle East do not like, nor trust the Iranians. The mostly Sunni Arabs have problems with the Shiite Aryan nation, a nation with stated visions of regional domination. The ability of Ahmadinejad to get Syria as a client state demonstrates a tremendous ability of the man and his regime to influence even those who by eight should be his foes. It is quite interesting to observe the Sunni Syrians allowing the Shiite Iranians dominate their country without resistance.
It is important to note that the relationship between Iran and Syria is not likely to survive when Assad is removed from power. In large part present day interaction between the two nations is due to the fact that Assad and his inner circle gain from the arrangement. A new regime in Syria will unlikely allow any significant Iranian influence to continue, and will thus force a big shift in Mid East balance of power.
Syria, Iran’s conduit to Hamas and Hezbollah; to be severed:
Without Bashar Assad at the helm, Iran’s influence on Syria will likely dwindle and Iran’s isolation in the region will develop into a serious problem for that regime. One of the few connections that Iran will likely develop is one with the mostly Shiite Iraq, after United States withdrawal from that country.
As things stand, Iran, in spite of its saber-rattling, is a very isolated and unstable country. Iran’s nuclear program is not designed to destroy Israel, but rather to be held over other nations’ heads as a tool for acquiring influence, and control. The destruction of Israel is a rallying point for Iran, one of very few incentives the government has that it can use in order to keep its people from revolting, it is unlikely that Iran will give up this vehicle; while, by attacking Israel it will also face a sure retaliation by Israel, the Jewish state, action that could well mean the inhalation of Iran by the nuclear armed Israel.
Presently Iran exercises its influence in the Middle by funding and arming terrorists, it does so by using Syria s its conduit. Syria conveniently borders Lebanon (Hezbollah,) Israel, and had access, through the Mediterranean, to Gaza; it also allows Hamas to maintain its world headquarters, and Hezbollah a strong presence, in Damascus. Without Assad in charge, especially should Syria turn into a secular democracy, as can be reasonably expected, neither Hamas, nor Hezbollah, should expect the situation remain as it now is. Without Assad at the helm, Iran’s grip on the Middle East would get weaker, without an option to return to its present state.
With Syria, a secular democracy: Mid East re-alignment?
Since this is designed to be a relatively short summary paper, not all that is considered “the Middle East,” will be discussed. Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, and Yemen, in Arab Africa. In the world of Mid East Semites (Arabs and Jews,) the following countries will be considered: Israel, Jordan, “Palestine,” Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Dubai. Finally, Iran, the dangerous [non-Semite] outsider, will be examined.
One should note that the word Palestine was put in quotation marks. This was done deliberately since the “non-country,” that Palestine is, and always, throughout history, was, is an aberration if one considers it as a sovereign state. If one were to view Palestine in a rational manner and from an historical perspective, one would include that region as part of a number of existing viable states.
Since Jordan was historically and naturally a part of what was known as Palestine until the British, in an illegal move, under a League of Nations Mandate, carved it away creating, what was known at the time: Trans-Jordan. Jordanians, and “West Bank” Arabs, are the same people, even though West Bank Arabs, and many “Palestinians” within what is now called Jordan, are not legally recognized as Jordanians. This is an obvious aberration of history that should be changed.
The situation in Gaza is quite similar to that of the West Bank. The natural and historical alignment of that territory is to have it se a part of Egypt. Since the Arab Springs and following events in the Arab World, Egypt’s fate is in the balance, what that country will become could, and in large part should, determine the future of Gaza.
Removal of autocracies from the Middle East was long overdue. The resulting entities, however, may prove no less of an obstacle to Western type civilization!
The former Soviet Union, and then the West, has been trying to remove the Taliban from Afghanistan for a long time. The USSR was outright defeated, while the United States coalition is not likely to do much better. Western fear of the Taliban has a great deal to do with Taliban’s strict adherence to the Quran, Sharia law, and generally strict Islamic rules. The same fear may exist if some, perhaps many, of the newly freed autocracies, as did Libya, choose to follow Sharia law. Egypt’s, and Syria’s selection of future laws to follow, for example, will have profound effect on Gaza, and the rest of the Middle East.
Libya’s election of Sharia law was not surprising, the country is a conglomeration of primitive tribes, it was never allowed exposure to modern cultures by Ghadaffi’s who kept those morès to himself, and his inner circle.
Egypt. Even though historically Egypt was a highly developed and cultured country, that was the case before it was inhabited by its present day Arab population. Present day Egypt is not without history and culture, but under Mubarak, since no political parties were allowed, a mostly underground Islamic Brotherhood developed and could be the key to the country’s future. Should the Islamic Brotherhood emerge as the ruling element in the future Egypt, the removal of Mubarak may prove to have been a colossal mistake, but it may not have to be the case. If the Islamic Brotherhood becomes the ruler, its selection of law will determine Egypt’s, and that of much of the future of the Middle East.
Scenario I, Syria and Egypt, secular democracies?
Syria: There is little, if any doubt, that the removal of Assad from power in Syria will yield a country that would likely be much more sympathetic to Western interests and desires. Starting with Basher Assad’s father, Islam was tightly controlled, and the intelligentsia was allowed to flourish. With intelligentsia comes modern thinking, and religion is more-or-less, muted. After Assad, one can expect a democracy to emerge, likely one of a secular nature with little religious influences.
Historically Syria was the hub of the region, it may well return to that role. For example: A democratic Syria, a country a peace with Israel, could start, with Israel, and other neighboring states, an enormous joint economic development (I. e. a nuclear power-plant) on the Golan Heights. Syria may well become the key to Mid East key and stability, if its highly educated population is given economic and technological help in determining its own destiny.
Egypt: The situation in Egypt is very different than the one in Syria. Egypt, like Syria, does have a highly educated populace, but unlike Syria, Egypt is under a very strong Islamic influence that Mubarak suppressed, but was not able to eliminate. Unlike Syria, where Hafiz Assad, the father of Syria’s present dictator killed tens of thousands of Muslims, just because they were Muslims, Mubarak simply kept their [political] voices silent.
Elections are about to take place in Egypt, results, and how they are dealt with will have a profound effect on the region. If a secular majority is elected and Egypt becomes a functioning democracy, one that decided to continue its peaceful relations with Israel, one can accept an improved general stability in the region. On the other hand should Egyptians elect a religion oriented government, many problems could be the result. As a start, the military ruling group now in power, one very close to the United States, and Israel, may well not relinquish power to a religious entity. Not allowing an elected religious party to take over the government would likely cause serious riots, and a long-lasting conflict, likely civil war in the country.
Egypt: ((continued): Should the religious parties take power, and the like of the Islamic Brotherhood becomes the ruling party, many changes could occur in the whole region. Should a government elect to rule under Sharia law, personal liberties will be lost; the population at large will be even more oppressed than it was under Mubarak. Just as damaging would be Egypt’s regional relations, starting with a likely state of war with Israel.
Syria (continued): In the unlikely event that Bashar Assad can ward-off the revolution and maintain his hold on government, ties with Iran and its other clients, such as Iraq will likely become when US troops leave, will become even stronger, and the like of Hezbollah and Hamas will become even more powerful than they are now. With Assad remaining President, Lebanon should very quickly fall and become an Islamic entity that will also become an active client of Iran. A failure of the present Syrian revolution could offer a very significant boost to Iran and Islamism in the region.
The present Syrian revolution, coupled with results of Egypt’s election, represent two major elements in determining the future of the Middle East, perhaps, the world.
In the foreseeable future, the world will have to deal with the existence of a number of radical Islamic countries. The fact that such countries will harbor terrorism may be a given to which the non-Islamic world will have to continue to adjust. The non-Islamic world will also require acceptance that through Iran in the future, and Pakistan now, Islam will posses weapons-of-mass destruction, including, but not limited to nuclear munitions with worrisome deliver systems, that will be able to reach essentially anyplace in the world.
On the other side of the equation is a world with secular democracies in Egypt and Syria. A Palestine without an element of external support for terrorism by Iran, through Syria. With Syria and Egypt as secular democracies, Lebanon will become less controlled by Hezbollah and other radical Islamic forces, and a Palestine, either as a part of Jordan and Egypt, or as country without external support to continue its conflict with Israel.