Syria crisis causes Iran-led 'axis of resistance' to fray
The Syria crisis is complicated by the regional cold war that has simmered for years between resistance powers like Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, and Western allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia.
(Page 3 of 3)
But Arab foreign ministers, especially from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were withering in their response, with Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia rejecting “hollow resolutions and … spineless positions.”Skip to next paragraph
Such a lack of international consensus, together with divisions among the various Syrian opposition groups and the rebels' inability to secure adequate weapons for the Free Syrian Army, helps explains why Syria has so far proven to be the longest and most deadly Arab popular uprising.
Those regional and international variables complicate the Syrian crisis, in contrast to Libya last spring, where there was consensus on a decision against Muammar Qaddafi on the Security Council.
“In the case of Assad, what is really surprising are the two double vetoes, by two of the greatest powers in the international system. This is big news,” says Gerges. “Even Russia said, ‘Any cease-fire must be mutual [between the regime and the rebels].' "
While most analysts predict Assad’s eventual downfall – noting that Syrians have not been deterred from taking to the streets after a year of brutal violence against them, in their bid to end 40 years of Assad-family rule – few are willing to hazard a guess about when that may be.
Iran, which remembers that the Syrian president’s father, Hafez al-Assad, was the one Arab leader who stood alongside it during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, has thrown its full support behind Syria – not least of all because this Syrian regime plays a key role in its regional strategy.
The prospect of an eventual regime collapse in Syria is already resonating in Tehran.
Iranian leaders have proclaimed their support of Arab uprisings against pro-Western “tyranny” as part of a broader “Islamic awakening” that they claim is a natural extension of Iran’s own 1979 Islamic revolution. But pointedly not among the list of those Iran-recognized “awakenings” is Syria, which Iran claims is different, and the subject of manipulation and “sedition” by Western and Israeli “enemies.”
Today, the Syrian revolution is redefining longstanding power balances, and injecting yet more uncertainty into the Middle East. “Transitions” are under way in Russia and Iran, says Khouri, that make outcomes even more unpredictable.
“Everybody’s in flux, all the players in the region and international ones, the US itself it getting out of the region slowly and losing impact,” notes Khouri. “It’s like musical chairs: Everybody’s on the move, and it's going to take some years for everything to settle down.”
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.