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Proxy war between Iran, S. Arabia

The Syrian situation is not solely the product of internal dysfunctions, but regional interests have gradually transformed it from an Arab Spring into a full-blown deadly civil war. The outcome is bleak, as factionalism, sectarianism and ethnicity have been awakened in the middle of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the main suppliers of arms and money to the so-called “free Syrian army.” Saudi Arabia was a close ally to al-Assad’ regime especially during the First and the Second Gulf wars in the 1990s. Syria benefited from financial and economic assistance from the house of Saud which saw in Syria a logical partner against Baathist Iraq during Saddam’s reign. 

However, after the assassination of the former Lebanese president and Saudi man ― Rafiq al Hariri ― in February 2005, and the war between Israel and Hezbollah, the honeymoon was over, and the relationship became strained. Syria allied itself with Hezbollah and Iran, and mistrusted the Gulf monarchies as regional partners.

Saudi Arabia has long disdained Shiite Iran, and rightfully knew that Syria presented the backdoor for the Mullahs to conduct their affairs, and escape economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. The Gulf countries launched a political and economic war against Syria to force the regime to relinquish its relations with Iran. Saudi Arabia wanted Iran to be isolated, weakened and destroyed. A goal that can only be attained by a regime change in Syria, and the installment of a Sunni regime that will sympathize with the Gulf monarchies, and address their concerns.

Iran and Syria have developed close relations since the Gulf War, as the latter supported Iran in its war against Saddam Hussein. Moreover, Shiite Iran is close in its confession with the Alaouite minority which also practices a form of Shi’ism. Iran sees in Syria and extension of its security and a close ally in an unfriendly neighborhood that is dominated by anti-Shiism that goes back to the death of the Prophet Mohamed in 632, and the subsequent dispute on the right of his succession.

Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the defender of the Sunni world, has been engaged in a confrontation with Iran since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini regarded Saudi Arabia and its acolytes in the Gulf region as enemies of Islam, and Saudi scholars consider Iran a Safavid state with a heretic sect, like the Bahais, the Ahmadis, and Alaouites and Zaidis. As a result, for Wahhabism, fighting these miscreants is a Muslim duty.

Syria today is a ground for this proxy war between the Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. The outcome will end in a fragmented state, much like Iraq and Lebanon. Syria will have three entities: a Sunni state, an Alaouite state and a Kurdish state. This scenario will be acceptable to the Saudis who see in a fragmented and weak Syria a blow to Iran’s ambitions. At the end, the course of the river has been diverted, and an Arab Spring in the making in Syria has been hijacked because of a proxy war between the al-Sauds and the Mullahs.

 

Zerougui Abdelkader

August 13, 2012

Related link – http://tinyurl.com/9nkjsu8

 

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