What’s Happening in Syria?

According to the U.S. and European press, the Bashar al-Assad regime is engaged in a war against its own people, who are merely demanding a more democratic rule. The New York Times reported on July 21 that American diplomats met regularly outside the country with representatives of various Syrian opposition groups in order to help plan the establishment of a post-Assad government. Patrick Ventrell, a state department spokesman, has stated that their focus with the opposition has been on working so that they can have a political transition in place to establish a new Syria.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government and Russia maintain that the internal turmoil in Syria is not about local forces fighting for democracy, but rather that it is conducted by a coalition of terrorists and mercenaries led by the American imperialists collaborating with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They say that the agenda of this coalition is to overthrow a legitimate government on the verge of advancing a number of democratic reforms.

Turkish compliance with U.S. plans for Syria:

Turkey appears to be earnest in taking the lead as principle U.S. proxy to destabilize the al-Assad regime. It has been repeatedly stated and – so far not denied – that Syrian insurgents and armed men from a number of Arab countries are being ushered into Syria from Turkey.

Turkey has proposed that the creation of a buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border will be beneficial for the insurgents. Approval from NATO to actively intervene will constitute the next phase.

Turkey’s initial pretext for intervention had been the “absence of democracy in Syria,” which evolved into “the necessity of humanitarian assistance for a Muslim nation hampered by its government,” and finally transitioned into “Syrian mortar shells are landing on the Turkish side of the border and killing citizens.” However, the actual origin of these shells is dubious. The U.S. has proposed another pretext for the formation of a no-fly zone and/or a subsequent military intervention: The presence of chemical and biological weapons in Syria and the risk of these falling into the hands of international terrorist organizations.


Probable consequences of the turmoil in Syria:

Al-Assad’s departure may result in a regime controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, at least in the majority of the area currently governed by the present government. The Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt is not friendly with Israel and there is no reason to believe that a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria would be any different. Videos showing rebels executing al-Assad’s soldiers do not suggest a democratic substitute to al-Assad.

The Alawite minority (about 10 percent of the population) to which al-Assad belongs is supported by Shiite Iran, a religious orientation akin to that of the Alawites.

The rebels consist of a number of very different fractions with different agendas. Reports from many sources indicate that regiments of “Syrian freedom fighters” contain Sunni Islamists, Salafist jihadists, and al-Qaeda-style jihadists. Inter-factional strife can be expected after the fall of the al-Assad regime and Syria will most probably become fragmented. An Alawite enclave on the north-west coast may eventually be governed by al-Assad or his followers. This enclave may extend toward Aleppo and Homs, and may occupy something similar to the area previously occupied by the “Alauites State” that existed as French mandate territory from 1920 to 1936 along the shores of the Mediterranean, which extended from Hatay to Lebanon on its southern border. Latakia and Tartus are the ports of this region where the Russian naval bases and facilities are located, so the formation of such a state will secure the presence of these bases and therefore this state of affairs may be deemed acceptable by the Russians. Such a state would probably have a Baathist government and would be secular.

A Kurdish enclave may appear in the northeast along the Turkish and Iraqi border, and most of the rest may become a Sunni region governed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Probably an offshoot of Hamas or other radical Islamic groups would also present collaborating or opposing parties in this area.

Syria’s oil reserves are located mainly in the eastern part of the country in the Deir ez-Zor province, near the border with Iraq, and diverted by pipelines to the Mediterranean coast. After fragmentation, Deir ez-Zor will remain within the Syrian Kurdish enclave that will coalesce with Iraqi Kurdistan, while the Mediterranean end of the pipeline will end up in the Alawite state.


Is this a profitable end-result for the U.S. and Israel?


Why does the U.S. want to eliminate Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria?

a.  Syria’s demise is a step towards the taming of Iran: Keeping the dollar the dominant international currency is the most important determinant of U.S. foreign policy, as moving away from the dollar toward the euro or any other currency would have a disastrous effect on the U.S. economy. This is especially valid if carried out by the major oil producers: Iraq was punished for taking such a step. Iran has been shifting its currency reserves into euros and has already sold some of its oil for euros. In addition, it has also been encouraging Asian oil importers to pay Iran in euros. Iran’s persistent anti-dollar behavior renders it an important liability to the stability of the U.S. economy. As Syria is a major ally of Iran, its demise would be a step toward the effective taming of Iran.

There is yet another important reason for speeding up the process toward the elimination of the Persian factor. Following the withdrawal of the bulk of the U.S. army from Iraq, Iran has succeeded in bringing the area under Shiite control. The regional balance of power has now shifted in favor of Shiites. Sunni regimes feel threatened and are interested in reversing the balance before it is too late.

b.  The fragmentation of Syria will result in the formation of a Kurdish state in the northeast: Such a state would eventually join up with the already-existing Iraqi Kurdistan. A larger and stronger Kurdistan would offer bases to the U.S. whenever it demanded and it would also be an important ally of Israel, which is encircled by so many hostile Arab nations.

c.  Syria has been a serious military and political threat to Israel and the U.S.:

  • After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, explosions in 1983 organized by Islamic Jihad – related to Hezbollah and collaborating with the Syrian government – destroyed the U.S. embassy and marine headquarters in Beirut.
  • Syria harbors part of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both of these organizations operate against Israel.
  • Syria perpetually meddles with and threatens the stability of Lebanon, using its influence on the groups siding with the al-Assad regime to upset the regional political balance against Israel and the U.S.


Is this a profitable end-result for Turkey?


a.  Turkey was once benefiting economically from its rapprochement with the Syrian regime: No more! Turkish towns bordering Syria were flourishing with Syrian visitors, and exports to Syrian border towns had significantly increased. In 2010 Turkey’s annual exports to Syria came to 1.6 billion dollars, but these exports are practically at a standstill now.

Trucks loaded with Turkish products were using the Syrian highways to reach 11 countries in the Middle East. This route cannot be used now. Ro-ro naval transportation of Turkish goods to the Middle East through Egypt is more time consuming and extremely costly. Despite some support by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, over 100,000 refugees hosted and fed in Turkey are an economic burden.

b.  The formation of a Syrian Kurdish enclave may not appeal to Turkey: Such an enclave would probably coalesce with the already-existing Iraqi Kurdistan, and may eventually lead to demands for the inclusion of the Turkish region where Kurds consist the majority and to the formation of a Greater Kurdistan.

Hence, the participation in activities that would result in the disintegration of Syria is not profitable or justifiable for Turkey. As all the polls suggest, the majority of Turkish people are not in favor of getting involved in this turmoil, and so acting contrary to this choice is undemocratic!

A more profound question must also certainly be asked: If the whole deed is neither profitable nor justifiable, why does Turkey meddle?