Yesterday on democracyNow a long time journalist/author was interviewed re Syria. He provided -at least to me- the most informed and cogent explanation of what is happening in the Middle East re Iran,the U.S., Russia. Israel et al.
The clarity the interview provided needs -IMNSHO- to be propagated so that’s what this diary is about.
“To discuss the situation in Syria, we’re joined by Patrick Seale, a leading British writer on the Middle East and author of “Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East.” “It’s at least a two- or possibly a three-stage crisis. Internally in Syria, the situation is getting worse by the day,” Seale says. “At a higher level, there is a struggle between the United States, on the one hand, and its allies, and its opponents like Russia and China… Then there’s a third level, possibly, of Arab Gulf states like Qatar, for example, even Saudi Arabia behind it, who are obsessed and worried by Iran, and they think that Iran might stir up Shia communities in the region.”
The ‘civil war’ internal to the two main divisions of Islam by the Saudi and Iranian governments is -afaic- a key factor that doesn’t get anywhere near the publicity it should.
“PATRICK SEALE: Well, it’s of great significance, and there’s a whiff of a new cold war about it. You see, Russia has decades-long interests in the Middle East, and particularly in Syria during the time of Bashar al-Assad’s father, during the Cold War, in fact. China is a leading customer for Iranian oil and very much objects to American sanctions and European sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. China is, of course, not overjoyed by American attempts to contain its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, which President Obama has spoken about a great deal. And so, these two powers, what are they saying by their vetoes? They’re saying they don’t accept American and Israeli hegemony over the Middle East. They say they have interests there, too, and they want their interests to be addressed and to be respected.”
And this is but a continuation and extension of the ‘Great Game‘. There’s a saying “what you sow, so shall you reap” and what the world is now reaping is the fruits of colonialism, poisonous as they are.
“Internally in Syria is a completely different struggle. Now, you see, the main element in the opposition, the main—the most powerful element in the Syrian National Council is the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, just the other day, they celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the assault on Hama by Hafez al-Assad, the father of the present president. And in that struggle, at least 10,000 people were killed in the city of Hama. Now, we have to understand the background of that. Hama in 1982 was the climax of a terrorist campaign by the Muslim Brothers, which began in the late ’70s, to overthrow the Assad regime at that time. And they seized control. The insurgents seized control of Hama, butchered Ba’ath Party members and officials, and it’s only at that stage that the regime moved in and crushed that insurgency and killed a lot of people, a lot of innocent people. Now, the specter of what happened then, 30 years ago, hangs over the present situation. And the Muslim Brothers, they’ve been outlawed for the last 30 years. They’ve suffered all sorts of problems at the hands of the regime. And they are thirsting for revenge. So that’s why I’m saying it’s “kill or be killed.” The present government feels that these are armed insurgents, and the mistake of the opposition was in fact to resort to arms. And as we heard a moment ago from, I think, a Syrian spokesman there, that any government, whatever its political coloring, will cease—will seem justified in putting down an armed insurrection in its territory.”
What I found missing from this interview was Iraq, which,thanks to the neo-cons, essentially was handed over to the Iranians via the takeover of governmental affairs by the Shi’ite population of Iraq. Which will rally in support of Iran given any attack on it.
“The truth is that terrible mistakes have been made on both sides in the Syrian conflict. The regime’s mistake was to resort to live fire right at the start, when the protesters were peaceful. And the opposition’s mistake has been to resort to weapons. And that has given the regime the justification it felt it needed to crush them. So, on both sides, there have been mistakes.”
And so a civil war has come about.
“Now, Saudi Arabia is the Arab world’s heavyweight. It is the great financial powerhouse. It doesn’t particularly like Iran. It thinks—sees Iran as a regional competitor. It’s frightened of Shia power, the fact that Shias have come to power in Iraq, as well. And so, it would rather like to contain Iran. However, there are some Saudis, some senior Saudis, who understand that Saudi Arabia and Iran are really partners. They share a responsibility for the security of the Gulf region, and they should start a security dialogue. That’s what they need to do, rather than being dragged in to this quarrel between the United States and Israel, on the one hand, and Russia and China, on the other.
And if the U.S. REALLY was interested in peace, then that rapprochement is what we should be encouraging; but our government isn’t really interested in peace as they are apparently too dumb to figure out how they could make money from such a situation.