01 avril 2013

The situation in Syria is building towards a regional war or chaos. However, Such chaos might spread to neighboring countries and out towards the Gulf. All the while, Washington and Moscow are playing a strategic game searching for advantage in any political settlement.

From the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the US has been leveraging the circumstances and its allies to improve its position for negotiations with Russia. American pragmatism positioned itself strategically both within Syria, as well as on the more regional level with other Arab governments.
On one level, they are making use of the Saudi-Qatari rivalry, which has opened serious cracks in the Gulf Cooperation Council completely, elevating Qatar to a vital regional player.
On another level, the American’s success in normalizing the diplomatic relationship between Turkey and Israel has also given Qatar the upper hand, especially after the role it played in taming the rhetoric of Khalid Mashal and Hamas. Nominally, this will weaken the Saudi and Jordanian role in negotiations around Palestine, undermining the Arab peace initiative and open the way for a Qatari brokered deal.
The Saudi-Iranian competition was another relationship that the US used to put more pressure on the Iraqi government to change its position on Syria. At the same time, the tentative Turkish-Kurdish settlement American patronage was an essential leverage point to adjust the position of the Syrian Kurds regarding the crisis. Add to this the surprising resignation of the Lebanese government that will also add more tension to the regional climate.
The tensions on the Golan front are yet another leverage point for America. The limited military provocations on the Syrian-Jordanian borders, where there are many military, economic, social and even administrative developments, warn of a potential regional war. This could be seen as an attempt to put more pressure on Jordan to change its position towards Syria, and influence policy on all sides of the Syrian borders.
The influence being exerted in Jordan was clear during the press conference between King Abdullah II and President Obama in Amman, when Obama noted that King Abdullah was the first to ask Bashar Al Assad to step down, suggesting the Jordanian new position should start from this point.
Since the first day of the crisis in Syria, the Jordanian state showed a reasonable and balanced position reflecting Jordan’s strategic interests. Jordan took a responsible position through regional and international political activism that aimed to push the situation towards a political settlement that preserves the interest of the Syrian people and the stability of the region.
Jordan’s role in the Arab Summit was clearly aimed to rationalize the immature politics that was pushing for any alternative representation for Syria. This push, especially by Qatar, would likely lead to catastrophic consequences on the ground in Syria and the region, as it would lead to the fragmentation of the armed opposition within Syria, consequently making communications with those armed factions near impossible and creating a breeding for autonomous armed groups.
This could clearly lead to disastrous results that are difficult to contain. A clear sign of this crisis came after the refusal of the FSA to recognize the interim government. The impacts of this decision were quickly seen within the FSA, as Col. Riad Al-Assad the founder of the FSA leg blown off in car bomb.
So far, the Russian position seems to be fairly calm as Moscow knows that most of the American allies in the region are incapable of taking any unilateral steps that might lead to a regional war or further chaos. Tensions, however, have the potential to spread to different geographical areas, from Afghanistan, Africa and the Korean peninsula.
Russia is also playing the game, with the recent threat from the Russian Foreign minister Lavrov to call off the Geneva communiqué. There were also the recent Russian naval drills ordered by president Putin that surprised not only the Russian armed forces, but also the neighboring countries as well, especially Turkey.
As always, the countries involved are looking to leverage this situation to their own advantage, while regional chaos looms, the power plays continue.
Dr.Amer Al Sabaileh
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