Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Civil War In The Middle East

For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theatre of a Shiite-Sunni war for regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended by its Arab auxiliaries — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad’s Alawite regime. (Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.)

Taken together, they comprise a vast arc — the Shiite Crescent — stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. If consolidated, it gives the Persians a Mediterranean reach they have not had in 2,300 years.

This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air cover from its new bases in Syria.

Arrayed on the other side of the great mohammedist civil war are the Sunnis, moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan — with their Great Power patron, the United States, now (post-Obama) back in action.

At stake is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent. It’s already underway. As the Islamic State is driven out of Mosul, Iranian-controlled militias are taking over crucial roads and other strategic assets in western Iraq. Next target: eastern Syria (Raqqa and environs).

Imagine the scenario: a unified Syria under Assad, the ever more pliant client of Iran and Russia; Hezbollah, tip of the Iranian spear, dominant in Lebanon; Iran, the regional arbiter; and Russia, with its Syrian bases, the outside hegemon.

Our preferred outcome is radically different: a loosely federated Syria, partitioned and cantonized, in which Assad might be left in charge of an Alawite rump.

The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the Tomahawk attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent fighter-bomber shoot-down.

A reasonable U.S. strategy, given the alternatives. But not without risk. Which is why we need a national debate before we commit too deeply


sykes.1 said...

"Arrayed on the other side of the great mohammedist civil war are the Sunnis, moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states,"

Does this site have an editor or fact-checker or anyone who reads the news? Saudi Arabia is an extremist, anti-Western theocracy that supports Islamic terrorists, like the 19 Saudis that flew into the World Trade Center. Right now most of the Sunni Arabs in Syria and Iraq are allied with ISIS, which is hardly moderate and Western-allies. The other Sunni Arabs that we support in Syria are all al-Qaeda affiliates. The closest thing you will get to a moderate Muslim in the region is a Shia Arab, and they're no so moderate on Sunnis or Christians or Jews.