The Russian initiative to stave off a US attack by having Syria agree to give up
its chemical weapons was met by positive, if not exaggerated reactions from the
Syria/Iran axis. Whereas profound disappointment came from the Syrian rebels,
Gulf States, and Turkey, as other Arabs quietly accepted the deal such as those
Saudi Arabia, which is increasing its aid to the rebels
according to a report by The New York Times
last week, is keeping relatively
quiet, but trying to influence events behind the scenes and on the ground in
light of developments.
Mordechai Kedar, director of the Center for the
Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation) and a research associate at
the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, wrote on
his blog that the Saudis are quietly trembling about the repercussions this may
have for dealing with Iran.
Kedar believes that the relative silence from
the Saudis is because they do not want to attack US President Barack Obama
personally while they still depend on him to deal with Iran; and because of Arab
honor. He says that he spoke with a Saudi member of the royal family who “hinted
an important Middle Eastern character” – “manliness,” meaning that acting in
accordance with manly conduct, and avoiding any appearance of weakness, is
“Emotionality and whining are considered feminine qualities
that express weakness, while a male is expected to keep a cool head and
emotional balance and remain calm and functional even in difficult and complex
situations. It seems that the Saudi government’s silence during the last few
days stems from this characteristic,” said Kedar.
Gulf News, based in
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, published an article by Abdullah al-Shayji, the
chairman of the political science department at Kuwait University titled, “Has
Russia eclipsed US on world stage?” He stated, “The unintended consequence of
the Syria crisis is that Russia is slowly replacing the US as the dominant
player in the Middle East.”
It is Russia that is “calling the shots,” he
Turkey, which has strongly backed the Syrian rebels, was reserved
in its response to the deal, saying that the killing by the Syrian regime still
needed to be stopped.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told US
Secretary of State John Kerry this in a conversation on Saturday, according to a
report in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman
“The ultimate goal
in Syria must be to end the crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated
in this country by the regime for nearly three years, to meet the legitimate
demands of the population and to enable the people of Syria to establish a
legitimate administration,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on
Arab League chief Nabil el-Araby, an Egyptian former foreign
minister, who has been against an attack all along, was content with the
Russia-US deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons, believing it to be “a step
closer to a political solution,” according to a statement reported by
Doaa el-Bey, in the latest Egyptian Al-Ahram
weekly argues that the
people and the government generally reject a US attack against
Hussein Haridi, Egyptian assistant foreign minister told the paper
that the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad would lead to extremism in the
Egypt, fighting its own Islamist rebellion, does not want to see
the Islamist dominated Syrian rebels succeed, thus giving extra motivation to
Islamists at home.
“The advent of a post Assad extremist regime in Syria
would widely affect stability in the region and encourage extremist groups in
Egypt to escalate their conflict with the government,” Haridi
Writing in the Lebanese al-Akhbar, which tends to support the
Iran/Hezbollah/ Syrian axis, Ibrahim al-Amin sought to explain what went on
behind the scenes. He wrote on Friday that Moscow told the leaders of Syria and
Iran that the planned strikes were not aimed at being limited as claimed, but
would try to help the opposition overthrow the Syrian regime.
result, Moscow reportedly told the Americans that Damascus and its allies, Iran
and Hezbollah, were preparing “for a major confrontation, even suggesting that
the Russians themselves cannot sit idly by and will support the regime, just as
the US backs the opposition.”
Amin quoted sources saying that Iran’s
supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened the gas supplies of Gulf
States, telling Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said that whoever supported the
Syrian opposition “should be prepared to lose their oil and gas in the
The author went on to add that Russian President Vladimir Putin
told the American president that Syria is as close an ally to his country as
Israel is to the US and that an attack could destabilize the world.
Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security
and Foreign Policy Committee told Iran’s Tasnim News Agency on Sunday that the
deal was due to Iran’s diplomatic efforts.
Another Iranian lawmaker,
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy
Committee, said that the US had no option but to decide not to
“The Americans have no other option but to back away from
attacking Syria as their pretext [for the strike] was the issue of chemical
weapons,” he said.
Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council,
said that he hopes that US President Barack Obama does not follow in former
president George W. Bush’s footsteps.
Rezaei stated, “There is still a
possibility for an attack.”
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