February 8, 2016

Is Syria Worth World War III?

Those who want a Turkish-NATO-Saudi invasion of Syria should be careful what they wish for. This war is not simply about overthrowing a dictator. It never was. But even if Assad is somehow magically overthrown, that will open a bigger can of worms like in Libya. None of Syria's neighbours will be able to control the territory as they like to presume.

An excerpt from, "Invasion in Syria? Riyadh ‘Dangerously Leaning Toward Military Adventurism’" Sputnik News, February 8, 2016:
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its attempts to spread radical Islam and support its adherences all around the world. Although it does not back up Daesh in particular, it may provide assistance to other extremist groups and thus contribute to the deterioration of security in the region, journalist Rainer Sollich wrote for Deutsche Welle.

“Given the many forces operating in Syria, sending in Saudi troops would make things even more dangerous — especially because the country is clearly perceived as a warring party by the regime, Russia and Iran,” Sollich wrote.
An excerpt from, "Risking World War III in Syria" by Joe Lauria, Common Dreams, February 7, 2016:
The excuse of the Geneva collapse is a ruse. There was little optimism the talks would succeed. The real reason for the coming showdown in Syria is the success of Russia’s military intervention in defense of the Syrian government against the Islamic State and other extremist groups. Many of these groups are supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States in pursuit of overthrowing Assad.

These three nations are all apparently poised for a ground invasion of Syria just as, by no coincidence, the Syrian Arab Army with Russian air cover is pushing to liberate perhaps the greatest prize in the Syrian civil war — Aleppo, the country’s commercial capital. The Russians and Syrians have already cut off Turkey’s supply lines to rebels in the city.
As a fertile crossroad between Asia and Africa backed by desert, Syrian territory has been fought over for centuries. Pharaoh Ramses II defeated the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh near Lake Homs in 1247 BCE. The Persians conquered Syria in 538 BCE. Alexander the Great took it 200 years later and the Romans grabbed Syria in 64 BCE.

Islam defeated the Byzantine Empire there at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636. In one of the first Shia-Sunni battles, Ali failed to defeat Muawiyah in 657 at Siffin along the Euphrates near the Iraq-Syria border. Damascus became the seat of the Caliphate until a coup in 750 moved it to Baghdad.

Waves of Crusaders next invaded Syria beginning in 1098. Egyptian Mamluks took the country in 1250 and the Ottoman Empire began in 1516 at its victory at Marj Dabik, 44 kilometers north of Aleppo — about where Turkish supplies are now being cut off. France double-crossed the Arabs and gained control of Syria in 1922 after the Ottoman collapse. The Nazis were pushed out in the momentous 1941 Battle of Damascus.

We may be now looking at an epic war with similar historical significance. All these previous battles, as momentous as they were, were regional in nature.

What we are potentially facing is a war that goes beyond the Soviet-U.S. proxy wars of the Cold War era, and beyond the proxy war that has so far taken place in the five-year Syrian civil war. Russia is already present in Syria. The entry of the United States and its allies would risk a direct confrontation between the two largest nuclear powers on earth.
An excerpt from, "Israel frets about “Iran as Neighbor” if Aleppo falls & al-Assad Regime Wins" by Juan Cole, February 8, 2016:
An Arabic site that aggregates Facebook and other social media postings reports that Israeli officials are filled with anxiety and consternation about the possibility that the regime of Bashar al-Assad will conquer Aleppo with Russian and Iranian help, and will go on to reconstitute itself. It would be, in the view of Israeli hardliners, an Iranian puppet and would give Lebanon’s Hizbullah a free hand in the region.
Yisrael Ha-Yom, the newspaper of corrupt casino moghul Sheldon Adelson (chief backer of Mario Rubio for the US presidency) concurred in the dangers and could only see one counter to an al-Assad- Russian-Iranian victory, which would be an intervention by Saudi Arabia.