Despite the appalling loss of 70,000 lives in the Syrain Civil War, it is important to eschew the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention in explaining how the the causes of the conflict have been escalated by the Great Powers. No external Power comes out of this civil war with clean hands. Yet the US, Britain and France are set to make things worse.
The decision by Britain under PM Cameron and President Hollande to advocate lifting the EU embargo on arms to support the Free Syria Army is yet another bungled and incompetent foreign policy initiative. But there is a longer term messianic logic behind it as with the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
If, as is claimed, Russia and Iran are arming Assad (and where is the concrete evidence of Russia currently arming the Syrian leader ? ) , then Britain and France, by arming the "rebels" officially would, logically, only justify the other backers of Assad arming him more effectively. China and Russia are simply not going to be sidelined on Syria
Arming the Free Syrian Army will only lead to even more civilian casualties as predicted by Amnesty International. This is all about geopolitics and tilting the balance of power in the Middle East away from Iran. It has nothing to do with "humanitarian intervention". Broader Great Power interests are being calculated.
Syria is one of the 'dominos' that was meant to fall on the removal of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime in 2003. The notion, supported by neoconservative politicians and 'think tanks', would be that a successful restoration of a oil producing state adjacent to Syria would stimulate reform in its neighbour.
The removal of the Assad regime is a foreign policy continuation of the remodeling of the Middle East to accord with Western oil concerns are control of strategic resources. As the Iraq War backfired and empowered the Shia and led to Chinese control over oil fields, Iran is the target now as it controls one third of the globes gas.
The Great Power game being played by the West in Syria is designed to break the arc of power exercised by Iran through Iraq, Syria and thence to Hezbollah into Lebanon. To take out Assad would diminish Hezbollah's power and supplies of arms from Iran via Syria. As well as buttressing the power of Israel in the Middle East.
From the east, the pressure being put on Pakistan by US diplomats such as Richard Olsen not to go ahead with co-operating with Iran on the IP pipeline dovetails with the protracted NATO effort in Afghanistan to secure the route for the rival TAPI Pipeline route. Which is the unstated, yet factual basis, for the war there.
The overarching strategy to encircle and degrade the Iranian economy to the point where domestic discontent provided the material for a revolution against what is crudely referred to as a theocratic dictatorship when it is a "theodemocracy", an illiberal democracy but not a totalitarian state and with the capacity to reform into a more benign power.
The drive to arm the Free Syria Army is about destroying Iran in its having any regional interests in the Middle East and, ultimately, prizing it open for "regime change" and privatisation control of its resources by the West. This is the ultimate geopolitical game plan for Washington, London and Paris.Already former Iranian terrorist organisations are being rebranded as US backed freedom fighters.
Yet, as Lutz Kleveman emphasised in The New Great Game, even moderate Iranians opposing the rule of the mullahs, do not want US meddling in their internal affairs as they remember the 1953 coup against a democratically elected government organised by the USA. Iranians have a proud history of independence as Persians as opposed to artificially carved out Aran statelets.
For Iran, greater freedom is bound up with sovereignty and its national interests. With it's history as Persia, a regional Great Power, not even the removal of the Islamist government would change it's fundamental interests that are at odd with the West's overdependence upon oil and gas. With or without the Ayatollah's in power, it will not surrender control over strategic resources.
Since Hillary Clinton claimed Russia was arming the Assad regime, there has been a creeping propaganda towards supposedly matching this supposed regular supply of arms ( where is the evidence Russia is currently arming the Assad regime ?) . It has done since the Cold War but no arms have been shipped to Assad's regime during the Civil War.
By arming the insurgents, that could actually ignite a greater conflict of interests with Russia and China which oppose the strategy of tilting the balance of power in the Middle East away from Iran and leaving the gateway open for Western domination of Central Asia-which is what the New Great Game is all about
This has been a foreign policy continuity in the USA since the Carter Doctrine of 1980 and was influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski who believed that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1978 and the Iranian Revolution were a direct threat to US control over the oil supply routes from the Persian Gulf.
It could well lead to both sides arming their proxy forces and ,along with the protracted break up of Syria along ethnic and sectarian lines, create a "Balkanisation" effect in the Middle East, After all, the cockpit of conflict lies in the southernmost lands of the Ottoman Empire carved out after the end of World War One in 1918
Comparisons with the Spanish Civil War are simply fallacious, though they appeal to those wanting an ideological battleground between liberation fighters and a national sococialt ( Baathist ) dictatorship. That suits to sort of delusional remoulding of reality that often accompanies that slipper concept of "Democratic Geopolitics"
The contemporary crisis in Syria and the will to contend battle over control of the oil and gas supply routes is more reminiscent of the run up to war in 1914.And it is worrying for those who know their history. Should Syria descend into greater violence and foreign involvement, the result could be catastrophic.