Friday, 14 June 2013

The Geopolitical Factors Behind the Syrian Crisis.

It's now official. The US has announced, in response to what it regards as confirmation that the Assad regime is using chemical weapons, that it will now arm the 'rebels' in Syria. This morning the Guardian newspaper headline reported 'US says it will arm Syrian rebels following chemical weapons test'.

The US was positively itching to arm 'the rebels' for some time. The chemical weapons pretext was one needed to convince them that could conceal a cynical strategy that had already covertly been promoting via the CIA in arming jihadists just as they did in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The secular Syrian democrats who initiated protests against President Assad are no longer influential and the 'rebels' are better now term insurgents as they were in Iraq when Sunni militias with similar ideologies fought against the US and then the Shia guerillas that were allowed by the US to defeat them.

The willingness of the US, UK and France to back Sunni militias in Syria is a consequence of the fact that it backed majority Shia dominance in Iraq, and turned a blind eye to sectarian and ethnic cleansing after 2006, as the price of getting a stable government in Baghdad and being eventually able to withdraw troops.

Having supported a Shia government in Iraq, the US and UK now find themselves fearing Shia dominance promoted by Iran spreading in to Syria in a way that would upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Added to that, if Assad wins, Syria, Iraq and Iran would potentially move closer.

This poses a threat to Western geopolitical strategies for containing Iran which, in effect, means imposing punitive sanctions to destabilise the government, politicising the IAEA to find Iran guilty of trying to create a nuclear bomb and continuing the war in Afghanistan to hem it in from the east.

Control over pipeline supply routes are part of this lethal New Great Game, one becoming more dangerous with the growth of the Indian and Chinese super economies and the Western attempt to compete in Central Asia and the Middle East for access to fossil fuel resources.

The Afghanistan War, set to continue by covert means and by supporting US contractors after troop 'drawdown' ( i.e. not withdrawal ) by 2014, is crucially concerned with blocking off Iranian gas exports east through the partially completed IP pipeline to Pakistan. The US favours the TAPI pipeline.

The proposals for a Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline from Iran's South Pars gas field which is shares with rival Qatar, who is backing Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Islamist militias in Syria, has created consternation in Saudi Arabia and, of course, in Turkey, the main 'East-West pipeline transit country after Russia.

Destroying Iranian power is the key to hegemony over both the Middle East and Central Asia which is why the US and UK have repeatedly made Iran the most demonised nation in the region, even if it's government commits far fewer human rights abuses than Saudi Arabia, an outright despotism.

The fact is that the three permanent security council members that 'represent' the West are not prepared to see the insurgents lose , as they have been after the defeat in Qusair because the ultimate game plan is to curtail and roll back Iranian influence in Syria.

With a Shia dominated government favourable in Iraq, the balance of power has tilted towards Iran. That threatens the interests of Saudi Arabia and the stability of certain other minority Sunni regimes such as Bahrain that faced uprisings in the wake of the Arab Spring by Shia Muslims this time.

It will be interesting to see how Iran and Russia will react to the US decision. to arm the 'rebels' The only certainty is an intensification of the war, regional instability and a potentially very dangerous clash of interests together with an arms race by outside powers to back 'their side'.

This is a very, very dangerous situation. It has all the elements in place for a potential escalation into an all out regional war and major diplomatic crisis with global ramifications. For those in Britain interested in averting catastrophe, energy security needs to be looked as a matter of emergency.

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