Middle East Apocalypse 2.0

 

Author: Apoorv Agarwal

 

The Syrian Civil War has stretched on for more than two years now. The bloodshed has only increased since the beginning of the protest and the subsequent civil war and so has the damage.

Some say that the economic damage till date has been such that it has set back Syria by at least one decade. [1] The one aspect that has now emerged clearly is that Syria is now the Middle of Middle East. From international leaders to regional leaders, the Syrian issue is giving them nightmares.

Syrian Flag

The rebels want the west to intervene, just like it did in Libya but the western countries have been holding back and not all of them support armed intervention or even arming the rebels. [2] We have seen what happened in Libya and what is still happening there, one and a half years after Col Muammar Gaddafi was brutally killed by the rebels. The militias in Libya still hold areas under their own control, the government has been unable to disarm them or bring them under its own control. In fact, some militias are powerful enough to blockade government ministries for days, as has recently happened. Libya is still not safe for foreign investment. Plus, some of the weapons that were supplied to rebels in Libya, ended up in Mali, where they have resulted in casualties, economic damage and turmoil. After Gaddafi’s death, weapons were smuggled into Mali and the north of the country was overrun by Tuareg rebels and Islamist factions after the military organised and succeeded in a coup d’état.

Ultimately, it was France who had to intervene in its former colony, for its own reasons though. Some experts say that the French were fearful of disruptions at the Uranium mining operation sites in neighbouring Niger. [3] A good amount of nuclear fuel for French power plants is mined in Niger.

Libya had oil, a commodity for which the big and powerful countries are ready to kill for, even make war, just like they did in Iraq and as mentioned, in Libya.

Even though Syria does not possess large quantities of oil, it is of high strategic importance. It is one of the few countries allied with Iran and staunch supporter of Hezbollah, a group that the US government has classified as militant and western media describes as a Shia Militant outfit. Lately, the US government has this policy of terming political factions having their own armed wings as militant groups even though the local population might want them as the party in charge to run the affairs of their country or area. What better example than Hamas, another group described by the US as militant though it won the only free elections ever conducted in Palestine in 2007.

The US government calls for democracy in Syria, before that in Libya and numerous other countries that do not match the US thinking. Meanwhile, it is oppressing democracy in Palestine while actively supporting heavy handed and oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Ethiopia and other countries. There have been times from the 1960’s to 1990’s when the US government has plotted to overthrow the democratically elected governments to replace them with dictators. US has achieved in doing so many times. [4]

Syria is most certainly a very complex issue and not just a good vs. bad battle that the western media is portraying it to be. Bashar al-Assad does not support the western policies, hence Assad is incapable to govern and he must go, in the current scenario, by force.

As it happens, Syria is also a battle ground between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, both regional powers, battling for control of this area. [5] The rebels are supported by Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other countries with weapons and funding. They are being trained in Turkey and Jordan. [6]

The Assad regime alone is not responsible for the destruction that is going on in Syria. The events playing out in Syria are like moves in a chess game. In this version, it is Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah and Iran with outside support from Russia vs. a loose coalition of rebels, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, with outside support from US, UK and France. Even if the best team wins, there is going to be a lot of bloodshed and innocent civilians are going to suffer in this, just like they have for the past two years in this Middle East Apocalypse version 2.0.

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Endnotes

1. Alexander Aksenyonok, ‘Syria As a Mirror of the Changing World Order’, Russia in Global Affairs, April 15, 2013 (http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/number/Syria-As-a-Mirror-of-the-Changing-World-Order-15932)

2. Adrian Croft, ‘EU divided over approach to Syria conflict’, Reuters, March 23, 2013 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/23/us-syria-crisis-eu-idUSBRE92M0CP20130323)

3. Mark Tran, ‘Mali: a guide to the conflict’, The Guardian, January 16, 2013 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/16/mali-guide-to-the-conflict)

4. Noam Chomsky, ‘Bewildering the Herd’, interviewed by Rick Szykowny, The Humanist, November/December 1990 (www.chomsky.info/interviews/19900907.htm)

5. Alon Ben-Meir, ‘Syria: The Battleground Between Sunnis and Shiites’, The Huffington Post, November 4, 2012 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alon-benmeir/syria-the-battleground-be_b_1418270.html)

6. Michael Weiss, ‘Syrian rebels say Turkey is arming and training them’, The Telegraph, May 22, 2012 (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100159613/syrian-rebels-say-turkey-is-arming-and-training-them/ and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22285555)

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