Regional influence in Syria and Arab retrogression

Ali Al-Amin
Ali Al-Amin
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There is no doubt that terrorist organizations were one of the most important means of influence and expansion for regional and international forces in the Arab region. These organizations’ origin and orientation are well-known.

ISIS was the most important after al-Qaeda in paving the way for this external influence. It was also, to a great extent, a tool that was used by local authorities in confront popular uprisings that sought to change the regimes of oppression and tyranny, as was and is still the case in Syria, and to suppress legitimate popular demands against corruption, discrimination, and marginalization as witnessed in Iraq.

With a quick observation, we can notice that the war on terrorism as invested by regional states under Western sponsorship and supervision, American and Russian, disclosed the growing influence of regional and international states in the Arab region. This is amid a huge and scandalous decline of the Arab regional system where the Arab League appears to be the most notable absentee in the scene while in fact it is supposed to be its greatest actor.

What raises concern as we have previously mentioned is the future of the Syrian entity and the extent to which regional and international aspirations are reflected in the ongoing attempts to take advantage of the diversity of Syrian societal components

Ali Al-Amin

Syria's future

At present, what is most concerning in Syria and the Arab World in general is not the survival of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or its end, which is naturally over since it has lost all its capabilities in managing the state and its mechanism whose main function now is to stay by coercion in anticipation of how the regional and international scene will crystallize. What raises concern as we have previously mentioned is the future of the Syrian entity and the extent to which regional and international aspirations are reflected in the ongoing attempts to take advantage of the diversity of Syrian societal components to draw the map of regional influence.

Russia, which presents itself as the victorious party on terrorism and the sponsor of the new Syria project, even after it has contributed to its destruction, shares this mission with Iran. It’s aware that Iranian influence in this country is necessary as long as there is no other alternative that ensures its (Russian) availability as a reference over this country, as neither the US administration can reassure it of its future in Syria, nor is it confident in its own strength since it faces the threats of exhaustion and the high costs of keeping its soldiers for an indefinite period without setting a clear date to stop the war or declare its end.

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Meanwhile, the United States continues to enforce its military bases in the east and on the Iraqi borders. The facts on the ground indicate that its control of oil-rich areas in Syria is permanent, while its relations with Kurdish organizations in north of Syria are oscillating between full support and taking into account some Turkish accounts and interests.

Iran does not appear to want to get out of Syria. It has paid a lot of money and blood in order to defend Bashar Assad’s regime and prevent the Syrian revolution from achieving change. Therefore, the harsh American sanctions will not push Iran out of Syria. The Iranian strategy in Syria is based on imposing military and demographic facts that aim to show that its presence in the country us based on political and social rules that are difficult to change or to increase the cost of removing it from there.

The Iranian leadership which has provided all the conditions required by Israel in Syria with Russian sponsorship – especially those related to Israel’s security thus reaching a smooth compromise in the Syrian south under Russian supervision and an American cover – has started to dedicate itself for another task that it had already launched and is currently working on. This mission revolves around building strong relations based on a system of material and security interests with various Syrian social environments.

Iran's approach

Iran is focusing its efforts on nurturing the greatest number of relations with minorities, be it Christian with all their variations, Kurds and other ethnic groups, which ISIS contributed to arising their existential concerns. What strengthens this approach is the international and regional policies’ attitude in giving special interest to these minorities for mainly political reasons. Iran has also intentionally established Syrian militias in many areas it controls thus gaining access to a number of clans who have been involved within militia frameworks funded and armed by Iran.

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In return, Turkey, which succeeded in circumventing the American and Russian nipper by aligning itself with the requirements of Russian influence in Syria, finding channels of understanding with Washington regarding its conditions in northern Syria and investing in Iran’s need for it amidst the US sanctions phase, created new opportunities for it in order not to leave Syria. These strategic points that Ankara succeeded in achieving in Syria shifted from the aspirations of an “Ottoman state” to a regional state committed to the conditions of American and Russian control in Syria.

However, what must be noted is that the Arab desertion of this country has allowed regional powers that aspire to enforce their influence and legitimize it in Syria, and specifically Turkey, Iran and Israel, to proceed even further in this behavior – i.e. the Arab role in terms of letting the Syrian society with all its components know that there are pivotal Arab forces that care about what is happening in Syria is absent. It is unreasonable to accept that the power of Turkey or Iran and even Israel are leagues ahead of the Arab power, be it (the Arab power) represented in an Arab regional system or an Arab country.

An Arab incubator for Syria is certainly a Syrian necessity, but it is also an Arab necessity imposed by Arab regional security. The most dangerous thing currently facing Syria is redrawing the map of demographic influence based on the presumption that there exists a terrorist threat, called ISIS, originating from a Syrian majority and that the minority hence needs foreign protection. This is a dangerous reality as long as the Syrian people with all their components are a witness to the tragedy of Arab desertion, leaving them a meal to be looted by regional and international wolves.

This article is also available in Arabic.


Ali Al-Amin is a journalist based in Lebanon and is the Editor of news site

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