The wider implications of the Syrian drama

A mural in Iran showing the yellow Hezbollah f...
A mural in Iran showing the yellow Hezbollah flag, and a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini which says: “Israel must be destroyed.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What started some 2 years ago in Syria as a protest movement against a brutal oppressive regime is now an uprising of spiralling war between various fractions, potentially dragging a whole region in a whirlpool of vicious violence.

What started 2 years ago as a struggle for justice being compromised became a sad time for justice.

In Syria this became a lost case of criminal justice.

It’s a sad time as well for peace in the Middle East as  risky are the dynamics for escalating violence with plenty of stakeholders holding different agenda’s, – all in a position to commit or to refrain from the threat of further escalation. Plenty of stakeholders being able to make either the choice or resist the choice to throw oil on a fire of existing violence between a Sunni – dominated opposition and the al – Assad regime supported Alawite’s, – an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
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It’s now a most dangerous and potential explosive situation as the playground of the dynamics are part of the playground of regional powers. Powers not being ready to give up the status quo on influence by terror. Terror by infiltration and supplying missiles to areas where they should not be, as the use of those missiles could put the region on fire.
Moderates have been pushed to the sideline and there is no leadership among the fractions with only sectarian horror to evolve. Massacres against the Sunni communities likely to happen if the Syrian government army is able to capture these areas with families including women and children being executed.
It happens as it already happened.
It would not seem this conflict has anything to do with Islam and actually the dynamics are opposing Islam as a religion as massacres and murder of innocent people by those countries calling themselves Islāmic by faith are repugnant in the view of real Muslims.  Islam only by virtue of its wide extension can be called a world-religion, – but for some groups it never reached  the required spiritual level because it never produced a workable thinking, which includes workable action  on both the world and humanity. The last at a depths required to bring both civilisation and respect for life in the hearts of its people.
There where religion is unable to achieve this, it is failing, – not because of the religion but because of the people who practice their religion. Where we don’t learn from the vanity of our false distinctions, even where it involves religion with the wrong practical implications, our lives may be diminished to the perceptions that our neighbours are aliens .We then may live together in a region but are not bound together as a community. We only then learn to live in fear with a wish to retreat from the people we perceive as our opponents, because they are different, – and our first instinct dictates then to meet disagreement with violence. This is what we see in the Middle East and elsewhere. And we know that there are no final answers but what we learn is not always the right learning if the common impulse is to meet disagreement with force. And if this carried  over to the children in the worst possible scenario’s encountered in the Middle East, the future of those who are to follow is more restricted with even more violence.
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The mindless menace of violence in Syria is likely  overturning its borders and affecting those who live there as minorities. People butchered to death. The victims are young and old, known and unknown, Islamic and non-Islamic, but foremost they are people suffering from senseless acts of sectarian violence. Families disrupted in the pain of daily agony, not knowing who will be next. It’s the kind of violence which tears apart the fabric of life, which tears apart a country and the fabric of communities as part of barbaric  brutality which belongs actually to dark ages centuries ago. Civilian slaughter for the benefit of politics and holding on to power are one of the worst violations of human rights. Governments mastering this domain  will lose their cause and pay the price. The danger of the spiraling violence is that when you teach people to hate others and fear them because they are different in their beliefs, you teach them as well that they are a threat to you, and that  they may take your life or your freedom,  and a such the cycle of violence and hatred continues to do its evil and destructive work. It can only stop when people cease  to do this, when the actions of violence are terminated at such level that violence does not know how to move anymore. It’s then that we may realise that this short life on earth can neither be enriched by hatred nor by revenge.
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Whilst Christians or Jews have neither been perfect through history, wisdom inspired by those of them who thought in depths about humanity and the world was rarely suppressed to support the status quo of the traditional views, – and progress was made through centuries. The last often recognised in retrospect. And still, even for Christians and Jews at times things are  hard going but civilisation became the cornerstone of the majority, – whilst reality shows that civilisation and respect for life is a lost avenue for some traditional Muslims in countries in the Middle East, – sticking to unchanged dogma’s. The last never been challenged on real merit and value for life as it was intended to be.
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An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth are not the means by which we need to live, and on all sides of the religious spectrum we are never told to do so. Those “who live by the sword will be killed by the sword”.
Some groups and possibly countries are on the verge of making things even more bitter than better in current Syria, based on the dividing thought that violence and cruelty serves the purpose of a united  or stable Syria, based possibly on a different concept of government. The killing fields of Cambodia would perhaps not be worse than those in Syria in such case, but the last may get worse if this current conflict would escalate across the borders of Syria.
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Both scenario’s are not acceptable.
Whilst the people in both Cambodia and Vietnam are by nature friendly and forgiving on what has been done in the past, widening conflict in Syria would be neither forgiving nor forgetting as sectarian violence brings the worst out of people,  the last apart from the agenda’s from surrounding nations trying to capitalise on more influence, – especially Iran.
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If the al- Assad regime would fall to the Sunni dominated opposition, – Iran could lose it’s link to Hezbollah in Lebanon and its power on the border with Israel. Not what they want.
Lebanon with it’s Shiite and Alawite majority (Muslim) sects which both do support the current Syrian al – Assad regime dominate the Lebanon’s government.
You see the frictions here.
Then we have Iraq with long standing tribal ties between Iraq’s Sunnis and Syria’s Sunnis, – many of which feeling oppressed by a non – Sunni Government with Iraq feeling the tensions of Syria’s conflict in its own country. Various bomb explosions have been in the news.  Sunni jihad with al Qaeda links likely being already active across both borders to fight the non Sunni government in Syria.
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And then the country of Jordan  being burdened by some 1.5 million Syrian refugees with adversity leading to potential unrest in Jordan.
Turkey as a country as well similarly burdened by refugees flooding the country since the start of the uprise against the al- Assad regime, – Turkey obviously blaming the al-Assad regime for this. Besides this a pair of car bombs killing dozens of people in a Turkish town which had welcomed many Syrian refugees. A Marxist terror group being involved in those car bombs, a terror group with close links to Syrian’s intelligence service.
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Other countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are backing the Syrian rebels  as they feel a Sunni government being installed in Syria would make the Gulf States more stable, as they fear the spread of Iran’s influence in the region.
For Israel finally it is felt to be important that the front group for Iran in Lebanon will be stopped as due to the increasing dangers with Iran’s infiltration via Hezbollah, the last supported by the Syrian regime. The Israeli‘s reluctant to get involved will  however at all cost prevent the transfer of modern missile systems to the al- Assad ally Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon. Those missiles include Iranian made and upgraded Fateh -110 missiles with a range of 300 km. Whilst the Israelis and Hezbollah are not in direct conflict as yet, they may become more active on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict as due to the Iran – Hezbollah link. Israel will respond in no uncertain terms if the missile threat from the north is growing because Tehran is using Damascus to feed Lebanon with offensive weapons. Israel has deployed already two of its iron Dome missile-defence systems in its northern cities to combat potential missile and rocket attacks from which it is believed that Hezbollah has an arsenal of some 50000.
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It’s a fragile balance on which it is assumed Syria has not the recourses to fight on two fronts. It’s for Israel a wait and see predicament as with weakening the Assad regime the potential strengthening of the rebel fraction such as the al-Nusra Front with al Qaeda links in Iraq may open a new spectrum of threats as this jihad group is highly organised. The question for Israel might be whether the Iran-Hezbollah link is more dangerous than the various rebel fractions being out of control as it would seem to be.
All in all “it’s a can of worms” with no end in sight as evil tends to spread rapidly with chaos the unfortunate outcome. Whilst Islam carries in itself greater ethical depth than it’s appearance would lead one to suppose, no great Islam leader has been able to speak out against all this. No Islamic nation has been able to lift the burden of traditional views  dominating the practical political implications of a nation’s direction slowly moving to war, by infiltration and ambition, – like Iran. No Islāmic nation being able to embrace both respect of culture and human rights has been able to make the al- Assad regime accountable for what it did to its own people, as the traditional and oppressive views are both dominated by Iran and Syria.
Both are major culprits of guided violence and oppression in the Middle East.
The sad thing is that apart from 70000 death inside Syria as result of the civil war, the conflict is reaching across the borders with even Russia getting involved. The last supporting the al – Assad regime.  An indication as well which way Russia is prepared to support, and one may assume lack of real consideration.
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The US reluctant to get involved with US Secretary of State John Kerry emphasising the need for an international conference to be attended by both the Syrian government and opposition to prevent total chaos in Syria. However it is questionable whether this works when the al-Assad regime gets the backing of Russia.
At the same time there is a large inflow of weapons from various sides indicating that more people will be killed with no likely military outcome either side in the nearby future. Hezbollah dispatched some 4000 fighters to Syria to help the al-Assad regime. Rocket attacks from rebel forces into Lebanon against this Shiite militia.
Undeniable there is a huge risk of a most bloody sectarian warfare which will both involve Syria Lebanon and Iraq, – reducing the already compromised stability in the region.
With an increasing number of fighters from different countries going over Syria’s border to support one side or the other. Israel is on the alert to prevent Syrian forces to transport advanced missile systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon and if so required will conduct further airstrikes to prevent this happening out of fear that chemical warfare comes into the wrong hands with Israel being an easy target in such case. Syria’s most powerful ally Russia will deliver advances anti-aircraft missiles, indicating somehow to the West to stay out of Syria. The US supports politically the Syrian rebels with non – lethal aid whilst the Obama Administration refrains from providing military aid, – presumably concerned that the situation would then escalate. Meanwhile however intensifying diplomacy efforts to rescue the region from widespread conflict with international security and peace being at risk.
However this will not change the background role of Iran and Russia’s support for the al-Assad regime.
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The divisions however among the opposition, but also among some of the al-Assad links are a stumbling block for effective negotiations anyhow. Whilst Russia with its al-Assad support makes it clear to the West to stay out of the area, they agree with the US on required diplomacy to prevent a worsening situation. It’s not in the international interest that the situation in Syria is escalating into a large regional war with the potential of an international war, – but at the same time both Russia and Iran prefer to keep the status quo with al-Assad being the main power in Syria. The implication of this includes Iran’s role of supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon will not be changing. This means that on the long term Iran wants to keep its spreading influence whilst heating up the Hezbollah and Israeli potential for conflict in Lebanon at a later date.
It’s hard to say what would be the preferred situation as the region is hanging together on unpredictability’s. For the Gulf States apply they want a reduction of Iran’s influence, as they fear the strength of Iran if it would come to a war. Iran will not make any major moves in this conflict as yet as it prefers to intervene at a stage when it could hit or affect Israel as well.
Strictly spoken and in general, Syria would be likely better off with a Sunni government as Iran would lose part of its power in Lebanon, the Gulf States would feel more safe, the power base of Hezbollah would be compromised with no links with the al-Assad regime anymore. However the question remains how much chaos Syria has to endure to make such a transition possible and how many more people will be killed on such a track. Sectarian violence and anarchy may lead to a more dire situation in which al-Qaeda links may get the better of the existing situation with even more senseless massacres and potential genocide amidst the rivalling sections.
The hard question is which sort of stability is desired at this very present moment. Arming the rebels by US legislation may inflict a strategic set back for Iran as due to the disruption of the terror line between Tehran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. However arming both fractions by either Russia  or US may inflict a terror war worse than the war in Somalia with the difference Somalia never had chemical weapons, the last being at risk coming into the wrong hands not bothered by the human suffering this could create.
Whilst there might be reason to intervene in Syria’s government initiated slaughter house, as part of humanitarian action, – the last would not be perceived this way by the many stakeholders with most different and foremost radical perceptions, often based on emotions. The most important thing is preventing a regional war at large scale as this is not a region receptive for reason.
The least of two evils seems to contain the existing evil preventing from spreading all out violence across the borders, but an al-Assad regime cornered with Iran at risk of losing influence may both be well able to accept all avenues to protect it’s powerbase and influence in the Middle East, and for this reason both the region and Israel are at risk for a new level of barbaric violence in the area.
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With this in mind it is the duty of both the super powers being partly involved already, to contain this conflict and bring people to the negotiating table before matters get totally out of control. Failing this the US may reconsider its position as whilst US interests might not be directly at stake, the best possible humanitarian support needs to prevail in this unspeakable drama, – an obligation of moral proportions. Besides this it is up to the US to allow somehow now to be sidelined by both Russia and Iran perhaps, – awaiting conflict later down the track when Hezbollah supported by Iran will reorganise its forces in Lebanon. The last against Israel with both the al-Assad regime and Iran owing Hezbollah support, as Hezbollah supported al-Assad to stay in power,  – if dynamics would evolve this way. At that stage it would be hard for the US not to support Israel.
Finally, there is nothing to glorify in this world if we don’t get our baseline humanity right in the distinctions we make with each other. This may not apply to everybody as value systems are different. In general however at present it is a matter of watching the current dynamics in and around Syria closely as minor moves may have major implications in the positive or significant ramifications in the negative, –  depending on the choices being made. The last besides the human suffering as part of ongoing business in this part of the Middle East.
With a bit more empathy and lifting inflated dogmatic views lots can be gained. But lots can be lost as well.
In the final analysis, it is not the concern about any religion. It is the concern of human beings being tangled up in destructive believe systems leading to bitterness hatred and violence. At the end of the day in all of this we are faced with one of the most self-destructive dynamics here on earth, and where we are as civilisation able to relief this bit by bit we are on the right track, as life in a deeper sense does not expect us to do anything else. There where countries fail to put in the required thought on the value of life for its own citizens and make within this domain the wrong distinctions when it comes to maintaining power, – they are lost in their own advancement, and in the misfortunes of their own children being exposed to the worst examples of adults.
This is what we see over and over.
And therefore I repeat:
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Where we don’t learn from the vanity of our false distinctions, even where it involves religion with the wrong practical implications, our lives may be diminished to the perceptions that our neighbours are aliens .We then may live together in a region but are not bound together as a community. We then only learn to live in fear with a wish to retreat from the people we perceive as our opponents, because they are different, – and our first instinct dictates then to meet disagreement with violence. This is what we see in the Middle East and elsewhere. And we know that there are no final answers but what we learn is not always the right learning if the common impulse is to meet disagreement with force, and if this is what we carry over to the children in the worst scenario’s encountered in the Middle East, – we face a lost generation there, with worse to come.
As Martin Luther King ,Jr once said:  “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.”
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The crux lies in the method!
Thanks!
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One thought on “The wider implications of the Syrian drama”

  1. Very well written while using many lessons from the past. Dr. Paul Wolf has provided us all a terrific insight. I hope and pray the Muslim’s would not push the Caliphate takeover attempt of the World as they pray to do. The Ottoman empire should remain dead because they are not Good giving, caring and not prejudice people but exactly the opposite.

    Like

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