Analysis: Syria becomes multi-national war

Conflict has attracted Hezbollah, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

June 16, 2013 06:35
2 minute read.
A fighter from the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra

Islamist Nusra Front fighter in Syria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – The existing balance of power within the international community is at stake in Syria and thus requires active US intervention in the conflict, President Barack Obama decided this week, after hearing arguments from the leaders of multiple allied countries across Europe and the Sunni world.

The civil war has become as much about Syria as it has about nation states with significant interests in the outcome of the region. With the flow of arms from so many different countries, it has become a unique multi-national conflict, allying the West with the Sunni world against a Russian axis with the Shi’a, led by the ayatollah regime in Iran.

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In fierce opposition to the expansion of Iranian power, Saudi Arabia has been providing arms to the rebels for months. Qatar has allegedly aided the extremist al-Nusra Front that is embedded within rebel ranks. Hezbollah from Lebanon is fully entrenched in fighting in support of Assad – as is Iran itself – with their military guards already orchestrating multiple offensives, with notable success.

Turkey’s parliamentarians say their country is – with great misfortune – deeply invested in the conflict. Israeli politicians are nervous about the flow of arms, particularly the threat of a delivery by Russia of the S- 300 missile system that would threaten Israel’s abilility to surgically strike Hezbollah weapons transfers and would compromise any future consideration of a no-fly zone by Western powers. Jordan’s King Abdullah II presented the American president with a map of a potential future Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, divided into fiefdoms with desert lands transformed into new al-Qaida training grounds.

The port of Tartus in Syria represents Russia’s last significant naval facility in the region, and the Assad’s have been customers of Russian weapons for decades. For these reasons, and with an interest in bucking the West, Russia is expected to continue blocking resolutions against Assad’s government at the United Nations Security Council.

In its report, the Journal suggested the US will play “captain of the team” of players funneling arms to various groups, organizing efforts in the fight against Iran, Hezbollah and Assad, that are currently winning the war.

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Chemical weapons may have contributed to Obama’s reassessment of US intervention in Syria, but experts and government sources both point to a more strategic reasoning as opposed to a more humanitarian one: the constriction of Iranian ambition, the counterbalancing of an increasingly cold Russian leadership and fears of extremists burrowing a new, permanent home in Syrian ground, with central access to what remains of a peaceful Middle East and the European continent.

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