A duel to the death between the Sunni and Shiite crescents / News / News agency Inforos
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A duel to the death between the Sunni and Shiite crescents

The Persian Gulf monarchies believe that in Syria, they will ultimately be able to achieve their goals

25.10.2013 15:06 Stanislav Ivanov

A duel to the death between the Sunni and Shiite crescents
Context:

Thanks to Russia' active foreign policy steps a threat of direct military intervention by the U.S. and its allies in Syria's internal affairs was prevented, but this in no way means the release of pressure on the regime of Bashar al-Assad by external forces. The Western countries discriminatory financial and economic sanctions against Damascus continue, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey do not give up support from the Syrian armed opposition and the so-called volunteer Islamists. New groups of the Free Syrian Army are armed and trained in military camps in Jordan with the money of Saudi Arabia, with the help of American trainers. Israel is holding a series of preventive measures along the Israeli-Syrian border. 

Undoubtedly, each of the above mentioned countries with some solidarity of purpose holds its special interests in Syria and, accordingly, elects its own strategy and tactics.

The Saudi Arabia leadership does not hide its hostility toward the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. In due time, he allegedly dared to speak disrespectfully about the ruling royal family of Riyadh, went to the political and ideological rapprochement with Saudi Arabia's rival and potential enemy in the region - the fundamentalist Shiite regime in Iran. This was helped by the dominance in Syria's ruling groups and power structures of the Shiites-related Syrian Alawites clan, to which the Assad family belongs. Moreover, Syria in the eyes of the Saudis became a transit point and corridor for Tehran in exporting its ideology and weapons to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, to Bahrain and other Arab countries. Riyadh is seriously concerned about the formation of the so-called 'Shiite arc' or 'Shiite crescent' in the Middle East, and prevents it in every possible way. According to the Saudi Arabia leadership, the overthrow of the Assad regime will allow to bring to power in Syria the representatives of the Arab-Sunni majority that are loyal to Riyadh and will significantly limit the possibility of further penetration of Iran to the region. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the outset supported the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which united defectors and deserters from the government forces, and the Syrian National Council has become the basis for the creation of the Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces coalition.

However, during the long armed stand-off with the official Damascus this part of the armed opposition has significantly lost control over part of Syrian areas, yielding to the radical Islamist forces.

The ruling groups of the State of Qatar are also concerned about the newly formed Iranian-Syrian alliance and do not hide their goal to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad by any means. If in Riyadh the plans of changing the government in Damascus have been long nurtured, then in Doha the activity in this direction has only become apparent in recent years. A certain incitement thereto were the events of the Arab Spring, when in the region there was a strong wave of spontaneous protests, mass riots, ruling elites and regimes changes.

The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt was of particular importance to Qatar and other Gulf monarchies, which resulted in reducing the impact of this country, the universally recognized leader of the Arab world. Qatar, with its unlimited financial resources, tried to fill the influence vacuum in the Arab Ummah and began to claim to be a new sponsor of the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, the support of radical Arab-Sunni forces in Egypt, Iraq and Syria was increased. Meanwhile, Doha financed not only the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood but also the well-known terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda, Jabhat an-Nusra movement, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, etc.

With the overall similarity of Riyadh's and Doha's goals, the Syrian conflict shows the Saudis' interests obvious bias in favour of the internal and external (emigrant) Syrian opposition which meets the interests of the U.S. and the West. Qataris also incline to support the radical Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the above mentioned terrorist groups. Accordingly, Riyadh and Doha have different ways of military cargo and militants transit to Syria. Saudi Arabia prefers to use for this purpose the territory of Jordan, and Qatar that of Turkey. The widening split in the camp of the Syrian armed opposition and armed clashes between the FSA troops and the foreign Islamists somewhat strain the relationship between their sponsors. Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan and the Qatar's State Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah even interchanged rather sharp mutual statements .

Turkey too continues to play an important role in the Syrian conflict, seeking through the change of regime in Damascus to strengthen its positions in the region and in the Islamic world in whole. Ankara's position fits into the new foreign policy strategy of the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP), which set a course for recreating the Ottoman Empire through the expansion of Turkey's influence in the region by political, trade-economic, cultural, religious and other channels. In this connection, the Erdogan government, without turning an eyelash, offers its territory for the transit of military cargo and militants of the banned terrorist groups. Just as Qatar, the Turkish authorities set an immediate goal of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad at any costs and leading moderate Salafist Islamists to power in Damascus.

In capitals the sponsors of radical Islamic militants recruited worldwide, are not so far thinking about where all this riffraff of 'soldiers of Islam' or ' jihadists' as they are also called will crawl away. Their ranks include descendants from the U.S., UK, Germany and other EU countries, as well as citizens of Turkey and the CIS, including Russia. Experience has shown that tens of thousands of Islamist militants who have received the experience of killing with impunity and terror in a country, as a rule, do not stop their criminal activities. As they say: "jihad against the infidels must be global and all round. " Washington could learn it by experience of Osama Bin Laden nurtured in the CIA's bowels and his al-Qaeda cells that were involved in the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Despite the sad lessons learned today Washington and its allies have in words proclaimed the fight against the forces of international terrorism, but in fact shut their eyes to provocative actions of Riyadh, Doha and Ankara supporting terrorists in Syria. This is a manifestation of double standards and attempts to divide terrorists into good and bad, right and useless. But ultimately all of them pose a threat to human civilization.

The State of Israel keeps aloof in a number of countries, somehow drawn into the Syrian conflict. His government has long tried to maintain neutrality, and even stressed that the period of rule of Bashar al-Assad was the most beneficial for their country, because in this period there was no serious provocations on the Israeli-Syrian border. However, with the escalation of the confrontation in Syria, and capturing by armed opposition groups a number of border crossing points, the situation on the border has deteriorated dramatically. The Israeli territory was under fire, including mortar and artillery shelling. The Israeli military and border guards were forced to return the fire. In the border areas of Israel martial law was introduced, security measures were intensified, gas masks were distributed to the population in case of a possible use by the Syrian rebels or government troops of chemical weapons. "It is improbable that chemical weapons came to the militants. However, we are aware that there is no comprehensive information about what is happening now in Syria," said one of the high-ranking officials in the Israeli army circles.

In the course of events, Israel has begun to fear of strengthening the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which came to the aid of the Syrian regime and began receiving weapons from Iran.

It can be expected that the intervention of external forces in the Syrian conflict will continue, and, perhaps, increase. The Syrian opposition and its sponsors are forced to accept the cancellation of the planned by the U.S. bombing-missile attack on targets of the government troops that, in their opinion, could significantly accelerate the fall of Bashar al-Assad's regime. Now, Riyadh, Doha and Ankara will very likely resort to regrouping the Syrian armed opposition forces and will try to overcome the split in its ranks and continue the attrition war.

The Persian Gulf monarchies believe that their unlimited financial resources will play a crucial role in this conflict, and they will ultimately be able to achieve their goals. In these circumstances, the organization of the Geneva-2 talks even with the consolidated position of the United States and Russia is not to be expected.

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