Similarly, when calls emerge from certain quarters addressing “both sides” of a conflict and appealing for calm, even when one side has been using overwhelming violence from the get-go while the other remained committed to nonviolent tactics with few exceptions, we can all be sure that a ruse is in the work.
Conflict in the Middle East will have consequences far beyond its borders, especially in Europe.
This is a very important article by Nicholas Blanford and can help us predict the future patterns of conflict in the region. The key quote in it for me, the one that explains how “geopolitical concerns” are understood by Iran’s leaders at this stage and, consequently, how other players are bound to understand them as swell, is this:
In February 2014, Mehdi Taeb, a senior Iranian cleric, underlined the importance of Syria to Iran in stark terms, saying it is a “strategic province for us.” “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria,” he said. “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”
At the beginning of the Syrian revolution there were many millions who wanted to oust Assad, and many who wanted him to stay. Each group motivated by their own concerns, most of which were pretty legitimate. The systematic violence unleashed by Assad and his supporters, and the lies they perpetrated to get support for this policy from their sympathizers paved the path to where we are today. Nonviolence could not continue to work in the face of such mass and systematic violence, coupled with international indifference and opposition ineptitude.
When I referred in my post yesterday to Hady Al-Bahra’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I was not suggesting that he was wrong in doing so, I was merely explaining that, because it happened now and not two years ago, the impact of such an appearance will be minimal, and that we should not raise our hopes too much. After all, American officials are talking about a multi-year plan, even in connection with the upcoming training of the FSA.
The Syrians, yes, even those who are now in danger of being harmed as a result of U.S. strikes, would have been much more forgiving, had the strikes come earlier and had Assad being in the visor as well, and not only ISIS and Al-Nusra. But seeing that the strikes came so late in the game and only in response to a potential threat to U.S. security, and that there do not seem to be any plans for targeting Assad and his loyalist militias as well, Syrians in target regions have little reason to be sympathetic to America’s plans. Even the Kurds, and after their initial euphoria, seem skeptical now, because ISIS’ positions around Kobani remain untouched, and its assault on the Kurdish town is still unfolding.