By: Zain Gardezi,
If some decades later, historians are asked to depict the Syrian civil war with just one drawing, they might as well just use the illustration of Jordanian Cartoonist Osama Hajjaj on the right. Ironically everyone in the picture has always claimed to have best interest at their hearts of the corpses that now lay ahead.
Of course some share a smaller role and some much bigger, but it does not change the fact that every party in this conflict has directly or indirectly triggered a Titanic-sized collateral damage. The first person to share the blame directly of course is Assad himself who literally inherited the unfortunate tyrannical period of his father Hafiz Al-Assad and did little to dispel the grievances of its own people. No matter how many times he may use the word ‘foreign funded’, it cannot be imagined that rebellion at such a scale can be escalated purely on external sponsorship.
Then of course there are Arab ‘kingdoms’ concerned about the curbs against the ‘democratic forces’. The biggest financier of the rebellion has been Qatar whose personal record is such that by law there can be no elections, restrictions exist on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and religion. While Qatar provides the financial backing, the arms and funding reach rebels via Turkish border. Of course as a Pakistani national, I can safely say this is probably not a very good idea for Turkey itself. And in the mist of it all, there is self proclaimed Sheriff of the world i.e United States of America. Until Morsi’s overthrowing by the Egyptian military, Muslim Brotherhood government was one of the most formidable allies of Syrian rebels, connecting with them on ideological basis.
While UN investigation about the recent alleged chemical weapons used by the Assad regime is still underway, USA and allies seem to have already decided that Assad is the real culprit. Of course, problem with statements of such conviction is that at some point they will eventually have to exert some force due to ‘red line’ breach, even if it is a symbolic one. Incidentally, according to France’s 2nd largest newspaper, rebel forces specifically trained by CIA have been entering since mid-August even before the attack. Report goes on to claim to an extent that apart from CIA, about 300 rebels are directly supported by Jordanian Israeli Commandos.
Assad is of course not without allies. Russia and Iran remain the regime’s biggest supporters. Russia uses Syrian waters and even has Naval military installments in port city of Tartus. Russian President Putin has categorically refused to believe Assad used chemical weapons. Also, any success of rebel militia in Syria may also create problems for Russia in Chechnya. Iran’s problems are more complex. Syrian government is probably her only reliable ally in the region where Iran is surrounded by hostile nations based on ethnic and sectarian grounds (even though Syria is Arab state and Alawites are considered heretic sect among Iranian clerics). But historically Iran has also supported Hamas in Palestine, whose leadership until last year was still using Syria as its base, until Assad forces targeted Palestinian refugee camps on the suspicion of aiding rebels and Hamas found alternate ally in form of Morsi in Egypt. Also Hamas has more ideological inclinations towards Muslim brotherhood and the rebellion forces of Syria. But as it happens, international relations dynamics are not permanent and sides can be switched on need basis. Throughout all this, Iranian regime did not even symbolically snub Assad’s tactics, which probably made Hamas choice easier.
Unfortunately for Hamas, things started to change rapidly after Hizbullah practically engaged directly in the Syrian conflict after reports of attacks on shrines by the rebel forces. Since then, Assad has gained the upper hand in the civil war and MB government in Egypt has been overthrown which has isolated Hamas and it is left with no choice but to go back into Iran’s camp.
This momentum is another reason why western powers are looking forward to finally intervene directly and coincidentally have been given the ‘red line crossing’ excuse as well. Problem is, that for west, even the Assad alternates are no good news. In reality, the Syrian National Coalition which claims to be political resistance to Assad, has no real power authority and Syrian areas are either controlled by Assad or the splintered rebel groups who are divided among FSA, more hardliner ISIS (Al-Qaeda) and Kurdish rebels. Even the rebel groups are at loggerheads with each other as ISIS even killed a top FSA commander. So the toppling of Assad regime will most likely bring a chaos which can even inflame Israel. Videos of Syrian rebels chewing hearts of dead Syrian soldiers and shooting passersby just because they could not tell the Sunni version of prayers have emerged and shocked the world. That is why there is an existing though process that prolonging the war is the only viable solution for USA and allies. There is a reason why both rebel forces and Syrian regime are not satisfied with America’s role in the region. Assad sees Obama as the facilitator of rebels, while rebels feel that Western powers are not doing enough for them to defeat the regime. That is why even the possible military attack on Syria will not be a full-scale war (depending on how Assad allies react), but a possible offense against Assad’s key installments to neutralize the current momentum that Assad has gained.
Meanwhile, Turkey headed by Erdagon continues to block passage to Syrian refugees fleeing from war. In other news, the ‘red line’ has not seemed to be crossed in Egypt even after the red blood spilled by the Egyptian army of people for just demanding their democratic rights back. Also, the key sponsors of rebels in Syria are quietly facilitating Bahrain government to curb their own rebellion. Apparently, democracy is only required in certain cases in Middle East. Be aware! It may come to your hometown next time.
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