‘Rats leave the sinking ship’ you must have heard before. In fact rats move in a sinking ship judging from the near collapse of Syria. It was long in coming and the crew are a motley mixture of sects that are attracting some rats from far off. The Arab Spring was a reef that the ship of Bashar al-Assad could not avoid. The “Friends of Syria” meeting in late February met in Tunis in order to ship arms to Syrian rebels. Friends are in name only. In fact all those Sunni factions wherever they are want to settle scores with Shi’ia faction supporting al-Assad. Saudi Arabia and members of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),- like Qatar and Kuwait, are friends on geopolitical grounds. If the royal family of Bahrain,-Sunnis, has a stranglehold on the majority Shi’ia population the troops sent by the Saudi government are there to prop up the King.
A country which was once broadly secular is now damaged by proxy war. External powers caused sectarianism pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect. Such divisions have encouraged both sides to commit atrocities that have not only caused loss of life but also torn apart communities, hardened positions and dimmed hopes for a political settlement. The latest outrage using Sarin gas raised the hackles of the US who showed their token outrage by sending missiles. So Assad is hit but Russia is there to fix his headaches. The so-called Islamic State (IS), which controls large swathes of northern and eastern Syria, is battling government forces, rebel brigades and Kurdish militias, as well as facing air strikes by Russia and a US-led multinational coalition. Thousands of Shia militiamen from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen say they are fighting alongside the Syrian army to protect holy sites.
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to counter the influence of its rival Iran, has been a major provider of military and financial assistance to the rebels, including those with Islamist ideologies.
So we have proxy war and war on grounds of ideology and Jihad. All the three are waged by rascals whose ideas whether it deals with religion or politics are same in that these can be counted in dollars and cents.
Russia and Iran has set their own red line now and have warned the US not to cross them. This red line is the latest in the many red lines they crossed the one redline drawn by God. Do these beggarly crew think Syria lost or won will give them peace?
I had written a post “What ails Syria” sometime in July 2012. (Ack: BBC Apr.7.)