In a late 2011 article, I argued that Syria’s upheaval thrusts Turkey and Iran into a collision course because of their opposing geostrategic interests in Syria. Four months later, it has become increasingly clear that the Syrian uprising transcends Iran’s and Turkey’s strategic interests. It has become the epicenter of conflict between Sunni and Shiite communities throughout the Middle East.

The rift in Syria divides along a clear sectarian line: the Sunni axis led by Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the Shiite axis led by Iran. The new political order that will emerge in Syria will determine not only the success or failure of Iran’s aspiration to become the region’s hegemon but also whether or not the Sunni Arab world will maintain its dominance. Hence, the conflict will be long, costly and bloody, reflecting the troubled history between the two sides that has extended over a millennium.

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