Why Syria matters

The Western powers are behaving as though Syria were less important than Libya, when the opposite is true.

The longer the Syrian chaos continues, the more dangerous will be the likely consequences. Commentators have been announcing the demise of the Assad regime for months, but it is not defeated. With the material support of Russia, Iran and Venezuela, and with China cheering on the sidelines and vetoing Security Council resolutions, it could hang on for a long time. The Alawites are terrified of Sunni vengeance; Christian and other minorities that were not molested by the Assads are afraid of a likely Islamist takeover.

Arrayed on the other side are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, each for its own reasons. Europe and the US limit their intervention to anti-regime rhetoric, as if somehow Syria was less important than Libya, whereas just the reverse is true. Syria, depending on what happens, could destabilize the entire Near East, something Libya could not possibly do.

Assuming the players and their policies do not change, predictable consequences will include:

  • Increasing radicalization of the rebel forces.
  • Increasing likelihood of the eventual implantation of an fundamentalist Islamist regime, a Sunni equivalent of Iran's mullahcracy.
  • Further complication of the situation in Lebanon, with a weakening Hezbollah leaving a power vacuum inviting the intervention of the new Syrian government.
  • The likelihood of increasing hostility towards Israel.

The best that can be hoped for is a Turkish-style moderate Islamist regime. The worst is Afghanistan on the Mediterranean.

Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and a lecturer at The Israeli National Defense College (MABAL), 2011-2012 session.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 26, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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