Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Syria: On the Brink of Regionwide War

'World leaders have issued a string of bellicose statements in the last 24 hours, with Iran and Russia standing alongside the Assad regime against an emerging western alliance led by the US, UK, France and Australia. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Araqchi, intimated that Tehran would respond, should the west strike.'
It's difficult to see how the aggression of the West can be held in check now. They have the Arab League onside now so the oil and gas interests are safe, at least at present.Now the US, France and UK are casting around for the correct legalistic formula to justify a military strike as opposed to pursuing diplomacy.

However, if the conflict spills over from Syria into Saudi Arabia or Iran steps up its support for Hizbollah and Shia militias to combat an emboldened Free Syria Army, the war on the ground could intensify to the point where Iran is then threatened by Saudi Arabia and then what will the West do ?

The aim of the Western powers is ultimately to get regime change in Iran. But Russia is hardly going to stand idly by. And China has started to get a great deal of oil from Saudi Arabia in the last decade. Yet it has large interests in Iran and oil assets in Iraq as well.

This military intervention could be catastrophic. It is hardly going to remove Assad's regime and that is not the aim. The purpose is to 'degrade' his regime, Western leaders claim, to prevent him using WMDs with 'impunity' through the West acting with unilaterally in tangent with the rich Gulf States.

The idea is Assad is to yield to the pressure of this 21st century version of 'gunboat diplomacy' by negotiating a way out that allows the West to coalition a new regime in Syria that is not pro-Iranian and also strong enough to resist Al Qaida.

It is hard to see how that could be acheived. The West would face a strong regional power such as Iran more directly should it act to shore up Assad and should the sectarian struggle on the ground in Syria become even more intense. Shia agitation in Bahrain against the Sunni monarchy could flare up.

Moreover, Hizbollah acts as a state within a state in Lebanon and if it ratchets up the struggle to defend Assad in concert with Iran then Israel could be dragged in to the region wide conflict. That is why Assad's advisers are already making noises about retaliation against Israel.

We are standing on the precipice of an extremely dangerous region wide conflict that could even create an oil price shock and destabilise the world economy. Saudi Arabia is not firmly secure from any 'blowback' from Syria if it falls into a situation similar to Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Supposed statesmen such as Hague exemplify the continuity between the neoconservative strands of geopoltical thinking dominant in 2003 and still influential a decade later in 2013. Hague has learnt nothing from the Iraq War whatsoever

Nor does Hague seem to have recognised the obvious fact that Iran has been able and willing to intervene in Syria a lot more because the upshot of the Iraq War to remove the secular tyrant Saddam Hussein was to create a Shia led government in a country where 70% are Shi'ites.

The abstract and coldly fanatical geopolitical fantasies about hastening a showdown with Iran through Syria and Iraq ( 'regime change' )  is firmly a component part of neoconservative ideology. Hague believes this is his 'world historical' moment. It might be in ways he hardly expects, assuming civilisation continues.

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