Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Iranian success in Syria is a threat to the Gulf | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad burn a Syrian independence flag, which is used by the opposition, during a demonstration at the Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis, April 20, 2013. Source: Reuters/Anis Mili

After regional and international stances became clear, the struggle in Syria and for Syria has also become clear: this is a war that will alter the map of the region. If Bashar Al-Assad’s regime survives, Hezbollah and Iran will prevail as well. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that the war is pivotal for the Gulf states, Jordan, Lebanon and, primarily, for Syria itself.

A victory for the Assad regime will lead to Iranian hegemony in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and over the Gulf as well, while posing a threat to the very existence of Jordan and Lebanon. Iran is of the view that a victory in Syria will automatically ensure Western compromises regarding Iran’s influence and nuclear program—this is what Britain and France told US Secretary of State John Kerry, who sold the Syrian people to Russia in exchange for attendance at the Geneva conference. Kerry granted Assad more than he could ever ask for, offering to ensure that he will keep control of all ministries and remain in his post as president for another year. For Kerry, a Syrian transitional government is nothing more than a formality.

It is of no use to depend on international support or UN Security Council decisions, since both are out of the question, at least for another year; the American president and his government are choosing to turn a blind eye while Russia is siding with Iran and Syria.

There are high hopes, however, that the Syrian people will triumph because they know that defeat means destruction. They have progressed well in their revolution, liberating more than half the country, and sacrificing their blood to break free from the most oppressive regime in the world.

If it was not for the struggle of the Syrian people, the war may not have lasted for longer than a year and Assad could have gone on to smash the opposition and avenge himself against the rest of Syria. However, the fact that the Syrian people have been left to act alone will ensure that victory against the Assad regime will be very difficult to achieve. The Syrians are currently confronting armies arriving from Iran, Iraq, Russia and Lebanon (Hezbollah) and it is unjust to expect the people to confront all this alone. The involvement of armed elements from Iraq, and Hezbollah’s interference in particular, means that supporting the Syrian people is a collective responsibility. It is a duty of the international community to deter this evil regime, like it previously did with Milošević in Bosnia. However, the international community seems to be in a stupor. The Syrian people are now only being partially supported by Britain and France and by a few Arab countries that include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. Other states, including Egypt, Algeria, Sudan and Tunisia are siding with Assad, while the rest of the Arab world are neutral.

The Gulf states, however, are the Syrian people’s true supporters. They have taken brave standpoints despite huge risks, particularly in terms of the first clear political and military disagreement with the United States regarding regional conflicts. Although they are almost the only ones supporting the Syrians, the Gulf states must be aware that the situation has become increasingly clear over the past few weeks, with the arrival of thousands of fighters from Iran and Iraq, as well as Hezbollah, to fight alongside the Assad regime. These developments indicate that the Syrian revolution has become an arena for a regional war, where the only option is to stand by the Syrian people in their battle against injustice and against Assad and his axis of evil.