Agitating for a Regional War: A Deadly Distraction

A Million Stories about the Zionist Rape of This World – in pictures

Israeli soldiers from the army’s Home Front Command and rescue teams take part in defence drill simulating a missile attack at a school in Holon, near Tel Aviv, on 3 November 2011. (Photo: AFP – Jack Guez)

By: Hicham Safieddine | Monday, November 14, 2011

The drums of war are being beaten hard by Israel and met with a defiant readiness for a showdown by Iran and its ally Hezbollah. The latest face-off comes amid deterioration of relations between Syria and the Arab League backed by Western powers. Should it happen, a regional war will take place in a new geopolitical context that has yet to be fully understood.

The escalation is ongoing. Over the past week, media reports waxed about Israel’s air force drills in Italy and long range missile test. Israel’s right wing government upped the ante and brushed its military cautionary remarks about repercussions striking Iran. The IAEA, the UN’s atomic agency, released its report on Iran’s nuclear program, further stoking calls for disciplining the Islamic Republic.

Western powers waved their stick of stiffer sanctions. Iran’s supreme leader swiftly promised to slap those who attack Iran with an iron fist. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that such an attack on Iran or Syria will spiral into a regional war. The next day a blast killed at least 17 soldiers at an Iranian military base near Tehran. A spy row has now erupted between Tehran and Kuwait.

This is not the first time the threat of a wide-scale war has loomed large over the region. The brutal US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq ushered in a period of extreme instability and pushed for increased militarization of conflicts from Pakistan to Yemen. Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and its 2008 offensive on Gaza were two more rounds of the Bush war doctrine.

A potential attack on Iran always lurked in the shadows of these wars but never reached the stage of implementation. The large military presence in Iraq made the US army more – not less – vulnerable to retaliation. Global recession and opposition at home in the US reduced the probability of such an attack. This did not prevent the US, Israel, and its Arab allies – namely the Gulf states and Jordan – from repeatedly invoking the Iranian “threat” to sow divisions between Iran and its Arab neighbors, and to divert attention from Israel as the primary threat to Arab countries.

Despite these efforts, the campaign never seemed to gain full steam. Washington was desperate enough to apparently concoct the scenario of an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington. It was a tempest in a teacup. The real threat of all-out war in the short run remains low despite all the saber-rattling. But something has changed: Syria.

Syria was a linchpin of the anti-American axis that extended from Tehran to South Lebanon. The 2006 war gave the Assad regime a much needed boost in popularity. The Hezbollah/Syria/Iran alliance turned into a common defense pact. After 2006, any war would be a regional one.

The Arab uprisings did not shake this alliance on the regime level. On the contrary, it brought the allying parties closer together. But the effectiveness of this alliance partly depended on the legitimacy of its raison d’etre (anti-American and anti-Zionist) among peoples of the region, including those of the countries involved.

This legitimacy has been largely undermined in Syria. Syria’s internal front has become fragile and amenable to supporting foreign intervention. The blame of course lies squarely at the regime’s door and its obstinate – but expected – refusal to relinquish power.

The regime’s culpability however doesn’t alter the fact that the Syrian organized opposition in its current state and for a good time to come is too weak to determine the form and timing of any international intervention. The opposition has become hostage, by force or by choice, to the agendas of Western powers and their Gulf allies. The latter two will likely employ a range of tactics short of military attack to bring down the regime. An already weak regime will become weaker and its regional decision making will also be hostage to directives from Tehran.

In sum, Syrians will have little say in a future regional war fought largely on their land should it break out. Unlike previous wars, the moral high ground of an anti-imperialist anti-Zionist front will be lost after the blood of Syrians was spilt by the Syrian regime. But whoever wins, the extent of destruction and damage done might far outweigh whatever gain ridding Syria of the Baath. The war will be fought on Syrian soil and the damage will be Syria’s first and foremost. NATO’s war on Libya will pale in comparison given the military build up of pro and anti regime forces in this part of the Arab world.

The regime is aware of the dangers inherent in foreign interference and uses this fact to blackmail people who contemplate joining the uprising. This should not lead to a knee-jerk refusal of contemplating such a scenario. Whether an actual battle breaks out or agitation remains a war of words, the damage of focusing on military or internationalized approaches to the real struggle for change will be considerable.

War is the shortest and surest path to silencing dissent. The more attention is drawn to regional rivalries and tensions, the more the actual agenda of revolution will be subsumed by a hollow nationalist discourse over liberating Syria or defending her. Regime apologists will rally to Assad’s side and say “we told you so” ignoring that the regime is a full culprit in inviting foreign intervention. The Syrian National Council will label those who oppose intervention as regime accomplices.

The fundamental motives of the revolt may thus be lost in the scuffle. The regime will shed few tears over that. Not so for the Syrian people who are risking their lives for freedom and who have a stake in the outcome. If the revolt is ultimately about bringing genuine democracy and social justice, they may be forced to take the means – including those of avoiding war – as seriously as the end, the justified toppling of the regime.

Hicham Safieddine is managing editor of al-Akhbar English

Source and more at Al Akhbar English.

Gaza Under Attack – in pictures | Attacks on Gaza Timeline

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality plans to build more than 50,000 new homes in the city’s occupied eastern sector over two decades:

  • 23,628 homes have already been approved, 20,263 in East Jerusalem and 3,365 in the west.
  • 13,824 are pending review, 12,819 in East Jerusalem and 1,005 in the west.
  • 23,266 housing units are still in planning stages, 19,281 in the east and 3,985 in the west.

Of these, the municipality plans:

  • 10,366 homes in northern East Jerusalem, including illegal Israeli settlement Pisgat Zeev and Palestinian town Beit Hanina.
  • 5,239 homes in southern East Jerusalem, including Gilo settlement and Palestinian district Beit Safafa.
  • 4,886 new units in central eastern Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and Jerusalem’s Old City.

Read More

Besides this, Israel approved plans to ethnic cleanse 57.000 bedouin from Palestine

Save yourself time. It is only about this : Ethnic Cleansing

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