The link above is to a wonderful and insightful article from Reuters International on the conflict in Syria and how it is spreading throughout the region. Please read it either before or after your read my post.
The conflict that started in Syria between the Alawite dominated Assad regime and the Sunni majority rebels and Free Syrian Army is fast turning into a regional war that pits Alawite minority ruling class once supported by the imperial powers and the Sunni majorities in these nations. I believe that the social and political revolutions known collectively as “The Arab Spring”, sparked by the self immolation of a fruit vendor in Tunisia and spreading across the Arab world, has opened up long festering wounds. The mass of Sunni denizens of this region, long mistreated and ignored by the western and imperial powers and the Shi’ite and Alawite minorities who were given and took power, have finally found their voice and are acting out against what they see as a regimes and forces that are inherently hostile to their interests. This is taking the form of revolutions, protests and uprisings against the governments, but also against innocent members of these “ruling” minorities. The situation is explosive, and getting more so every day.
The Kurds also seem to be seeing an opportunity here and are throwing in with the Alawites in Syria, while the Turks are siding with the Sunni. Fighting in Lebanon has broken out and scores of civilians and soldiers have died as neighborhoods begin to tear themselves apart along ethnic and religious lines. US and France seem to be getting close to getting involved, and the Russians are still doing the “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” shtick. All the while anywhere from 10,000-30,000+ have been killed in the fighting, many of the dead civilians. Turkey has really wanted a reason to crack down on the Kurds and the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) and the Kurdish rebels helping, or at least not hindering, the Assad’s Syrian Army in their border conflict is giving them just that reason. Of course there is no love lost between Turkey and Syria, nor between the latter and Lebanon.
The US of course has regional interests (cough cough Israel and Turkey cough cough) and really does not want to see another ethnic powder keg go off a la the Iraqi Civil War (ironic, given that powder keg was set off by US interference in the region) but is also concerned about the proliferation and use of bio and chemical weapons by the Assad regime. US President Barack Obama surprised many with his tough words on WMD’s and a promise to use military force if their use is even threatened. All the while the UN is desperately trying to remain relevant in the situation after the dismal failure of the Kofi Annan peace mission (undermined by Russian and US intransigence and posturing and general UN ineptitude).
I have no idea how this will all end up, but I do have a strong feeling that this intranational conflict is about to become a violent international one. Who will blink first? Will Assad’s Syria, backed by Iran’s Shi’ite mullahs and Kurdish nationalists, fall into a pitched conflict with Turkey and it’s NATO allies? I have a feeling that this once unimaginable situation becomes more likely every day the violence continues. Stay tuned.