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Can we live next to an Iranian Syria?

Iran is redrawing the map of Arab Syria

Jamal Khashoggi

Published: Updated:

Like any war, the one in Syria will eventually be over, but it could lead to a permanently bad outcome. Today’s generation does not remember Israel being described as a dagger in the heart of the Arab nation. In the 1960s, Arab caricaturists drew the map of the world with blood trickling from where Palestine is located. Israel’s dagger continues to make us bleed.

A sectarian, Iranian Syria would be the second dagger, one that will remain for centuries, waging one war after another with us. It might not benefit from Russian support alone. Even Israel is ready to protect it - it is a Jewish state, so will feel less hostile next to sectarian and ethnic statelets: Shiite-Alawite, Kurdish and Druze, among others.

These entities cannot be compared to Sunni Arab countries, which together represent the whole Arab body. However, this body is weak because of disputes and totalitarianism. A caricaturist might draw this body with many daggers stabbing it.

Arabs did not notice what happened on Aug. 2 in Istanbul, even though Turkish intelligence provided all the details. In a hotel, three Syrians from Ahrar al-Sham, a rising force in the Syrian revolution, met with three Iranians and a Hezbollah representative, who remained silent throughout the meeting. The Iranians led the negotiations as if “Syria was theirs,” one of the Syrians said.

This meeting affects Arabs’ national security. Iranians are negotiating to shape the future of Syria as if it was their own country, angering and hurting the Syrian negotiators. What happened that day in Istanbul revealed the reality of the situation in Syria and its future prospects. It is a mere sectarian project.

Iranians were bargaining with Ahrar al-Sham over the displacement of Shiite Syrians to areas under their control, in exchange for the withdrawal of Syrian fighters from the village of Zabadani, which they wish to control. In short, Iran is redrawing the map of Arab Syria.

Hezbollah

In order for Arab nationalists to realize the coming danger, they must see things from a sectarian point of view because Iran’s regional motives and alliances are purely sectarian. This battle determines the fate of Hezbollah, which is firmly established in Lebanon and is disabling politics there. No elections will take place in Lebanon before Hezbollah and Iran resolve their battle in Syria, which will merely constitute a supply line for the party.

Iranians are negotiating to shape the future of Syria as if it was their own country.

Jamal Khashoggi

If Damascus falls completely to the Syrian people, there would not be a pro-Hezbollah government. This was evident from the first day of the peaceful revolution, which called for elections, democracy and pluralism. Neither arms nor sectarian slogans were raised. However, Hezbollah took the side of the regime until it made democratic, free Lebanon an enemy of the revolution.

If the revolution succeeds, arms supplies to Hezbollah will stop, and it will retreat to being a party that draws its strength from polls and its Shiite base, heeding the demands of its people and providing them with better services and more jobs. Hezbollah will then give up its dream of a great Islamic republic.

This article was first published in al-Hayat on August 25, 2015.

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Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. Khashoggi has written for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers, including Asharq al-Awsat, al-Majalla and al-Hayat, and was editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based al-Watan. He was a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and other Middle Eastern countries. He is also a political commentator for Saudi-based and international news channels. Twitter: @JKhashoggi

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.