If there is one clear observation regarding the consequences of the political earthquake which has struck a number of countries in our region, it is that there are no longer clear alliances between the Arab states, with the exception of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Similarly, the voices of groups, of all types, have been overcome amidst the noise of “the people want to overthrow the regime”.
Today, many axes in the region have been hit, and the first we can observe is as follows: A rift has struck the Shia Crescent, which Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently spoke about, suggesting that the mere vibrations coming from the situation in Syria would rein in Hezbollah, even if only temporarily. Here Iran is clearly confused, having received a slap in the face from the Gulf in Bahrain, and now Tehran has a headache from listening to “the people want to overthrow the regime” in Syria. If something happened in Damascus, this would mean that Iran’s foreign policy had failed, which it has invested in for decades, especially as the current Iraqi regime has been unable to provide Tehran with all its desired services. The Iraqi government is also facing real difficulties, and has now itself begun to hear the slogan “the people want to overthrow the regime”.
Furthermore, today we can note Turkish estrangement with Damascus, as well as Syrian-Qatari acrimony, or at least resentment. There is also the significant absence of the Egyptian role. It is true that Cairo’s role has declined over the past four years, but it still has a presence at the very least. What is happening today means that the Arab world is almost without alliances, bar the GCC. Matters may in fact worsen, but that depends on which direction the events in Syria take.
Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but in fact it may be good for the region. Middle Eastern countries may begin to form new alliances, taking the realities on the ground into account, i.e: conditions within each country, not ignoring the people, and not relying on false slogans which do not feed hungry mouths. Today, for example, you will not find the Mubarak regime talking about the Palestinian cause, or Islamic groups. Propaganda about confronting al-Qaeda did not benefit the Yemeni President, and you will no longer find the Syrian President attempting to talk about resistance, or conspiracies. Thus, the people have grown tired of these slogans, not for years, but for decades.
Thus, it is pointless to say today, for example, that America’s allies in the region are concerned about what is happening in Syria, for what are these allies you are talking about? Turkey, for example? I do not think so, the Turks enjoy relations with the brotherhood in Damascus, and thus they are not disadvantaged [by recent events]. The Lebanese believe that Damascus is the source of their problems. Who’s left? Israel? Possibly, but their concern is over borders with Syria that have been safe for over three decades. Of course, there is Hezbollah, but as noted above, this falls under Iranian losses. There is also Hamas, with its attention moving towards Khartoum; however they need to take into account that Israel currently has a significant reach in Sudan. Therefore, Syria’s stability lies within the state itself and not externally.
Therefore, our new stage requires a different discourse, and new alliances, and those most affected will be those who have harmed the region for decades.