England's White Dragon

England's White Dragon
England's true Flag

Monday, 25 April 2011

Syria crisis

Syria crisis could change face of the Middle East as the west
no it?

Will NATO now BOMB Syria? Being the Syrian people are in the
same struggle as Libyans? In wanting freedoms.

For decades Syria has looked as being among the most stable
countries in the Middle East.

Back in February 1982, a rising of Sunni Muslims in the town
of Hama was savagely repressed by the current president's father, Hafez
al-Assad. Estimates vary but thousands were killed.

The death toll today after upheavals in a number of Syrian
towns and cities is possibly in the low hundreds with many more injured - exact
figures are hard to come by - but the regime still shows every bit as much
tenacity in facing down its opponents.

Syria is a complex mosaic of communities and President
Bashar al-Assad may believe he can use these divisions to maintain his grip on

His family and associates have a strong hold over the
security forces and the army, so the Egyptian example, where the military
turned on the regime, seems unlikely to be repeated in Syria.

Events there are being watched with equal measures of
caution and unease both in the Middle East and beyond.

Syria matters in ways that make Libya appear a largely
peripheral country. Syria is a key element in an alliance that brings together
Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and other more radical Palestinian
groups opposed to peace with Israel.

If Syria descends into chaos, this alliance could also be
weakened. But the most serious impact might be felt in next-door Lebanon -
another country made up of a patchwork of communities which has not enjoyed
Syria's long-term stability.

One way or another, a strong Syria represents a stabilising
element in Lebanon. Chaos in one could lead to chaos in the other.

Israel, too, is watching events in its northern neighbour
with concern. Syria has long been a predictable enemy. Even a shaken Syrian
regime could pose a different kind of problem.

There has long been a military and diplomatic constituency
in Israel arguing for a peace deal with Syria ahead of any agreement with the

The stability of the regime in Damascus was always one of
the strong cards of this group, the argument being that Syria's rulers were
people you could deal with and there would be some certainty that they would be
around to honour any agreements.

But now the "Syria first" lobby in Israel may have
been dealt a serious blow, as uncertainty surrounds so many of the country's
Arab neighbours.

There is a growing sense that the political geography of the
region is changing in the wake of the impact of the "Arab spring".

It is early days yet, but divisions in the region which once
played to Israel's advantage like those between Shia Iran and the major
pro-Western Sunni states like Egypt - may be becoming less pronounced.

These changes are being followed closely in Washington as

President Assad has pledged reforms but protesters say they
are not enough

The Obama administration has long toyed with the idea of
trying to draw Syria's leader "in from the cold". The aim has always
been to draw him into the Western camp and encourage him to take his distance
from Tehran.

While European countries have made the diplomatic running,
with France very much in the lead, a new US ambassador arrived in Damascus in
January, the first to be posted there since 2005.

His predecessor was withdrawn after the murder of the
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Washington suspected a Syrian hand in the

The Obama administration has strongly condemned the Syrian
government's violence against its own citizens but it seems to have sought in
vain for any real levers with which to influence the Assad regime.

The Middle East's political map is changing. New forces have
been unleashed. But there are also countervailing pressures as well, not least
from Saudi Arabia which seems intent on mounting a counter-attack against any
shoots of the Arab spring erupting in its neighbourhood.

Where the Middle East is heading is uncertain. Much of the
optimism in the wake of the events in Tunisia and Egypt is dissipating. New
kinds of authoritarianism may be just as likely as the flowering of democracy.
Libya is one test case. But Syria may be much more important as an example for
the region as a whole said Sir Michael Black-Feather the English first minister

No comments:

Post a Comment