President Obama’s Administration reached a decision to, in theory, begin to send small arms directly. This is being sold as the United States will begin to send arms to the rebels in Syria. This implies that the United States was not arming the rebels before this decision. If only they were that discerning in their decision making. What this is actually announcing is that with Turkey now falling into chaos with riots in every major city across the nation, the United States has lost their go between which had allowed them to funnel arms to the Syrian rebels, mostly originating out of Libya, through Turkey while being able to pretend in the domestic news to appear to not being at all involved in the Syrian Civil War. The question the American public needs to decide is has their country chosen the right side to support. The obvious answer is they have not but the reality is that there was no correct side to choose. All that is being chosen in Syria is which terror groups will lead the Islamic world for the immediate future in any future engagements with the rest of the world. Perhaps some inspection and tracing the history behind this decision will make things more understandable.
Perhaps the first item would be to attempt to discern who gets the credit or blame for deciding to support the rebels in Syria. The first item we need to state is that, like or hate the choice, President Obama really did not have much of a choice in which side to support. He chose whether or not to support a side in the Syrian Civil War, but the side was chosen all the way back in 1953 and possibly even earlier. It was that year the United States backed Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi in the 28 Mordad coup, date of the coup in the Persian calendar, with Operation Boot under the title of the TPAJAX Project during the end of the Truman Presidency, replacing the democratically elected government in Iran which was proposing to ally with the Soviet Union. Needless to point out that this alignment and access to the oil fields were the driving motivations for the United States and no altruistic reasons were present. This was purely a case of we will put our man in for the oil and to spite our adversary, the Soviet Union. Perhaps it was attempting to make amends for the previous devious actions that inspired President Carter to back the revolt which brought the Ayatollah Ali Khomeini to power establishing an Islamic religious regime which remains in power today under the second Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The miscalculation by President Carter was quickly made evident as the new leadership in Iran chose to ally with the Soviet Union soon after coming to power. Perhaps there was just a bit of schadenfreude felt by the Iranians and Soviets from these turns of events. This resulted in the current alignment with Russia aligned with the Shiites and Iran and the United States aligned with the Sunnis and Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Hopefully that is sufficient historical reference.
The current excuse for a Civil War in Syria has in all actuality become a power struggle for preeminence of the Muslim world between its two main groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites. The Alawite Ruler of Syria, President Bashir al-Assad, is backed predominantly by Iran which has provided him with troops from the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) and Hezbollah terrorist troops from Lebanon, another satellite of the Iranians. These are the Shiite Islamic forces in Syria. The rebels originally consisted of one side representing secular interest and the other representing Islamist interests. The secular rebel forces have basically been all but removed from the conflict and have virtually no hope of prevailing in the conflict. That leaves the Islamist forces which consist of two camps, those with the Jabhat al-Nusra Front which has declared their alliance with Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda and those supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. The challenge in this is to find which side consists of the good sides, or at least the less bad side. President Bashir al-Assad has utilized intimidation, torture, rape, and other equally abhorrent instruments of oppression to retain his hold on power and his two supporting groups are equally renowned for cruelty and ends justify the means reasoning. This does not necessarily make the rebels any more benign. There is not much that needs to be said about al-Qaeda beyond World Trade Center terror strike and the horrors of a fateful day in September 2001 and their compatriots in the conflict, the Muslim Brotherhood, are not the choir boys who have, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “…an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.” In truth they are exactly the opposite but somehow possibly still preferable to al-Qaeda as long as one ignores such aligned subgroups such as Hamas. So, this pretty much defines the adversaries from which President Obama has now presumably chosen one side to support. Perhaps he simply chose the side which was not supported by the Russians, but one might hope that such a decision was made with deeper concerns that just that.
So, President Obama has chosen to back the al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood in their attempt to be the preeminent guiding force in Islam while the Russians are supporting the Iranian sponsored terrorist out of Lebanon, oppressive dictator of Syria and the terror specialists out of Iran, the IRGC. The problem is deciding which side is populated with people who deserve the support of the nation which claims to be the bastion of freedom and human rights in the world. Truthfully, the reasoning behind President Obama backing the rebels is more realistically stated as backing Saudi Arabian and Egyptian interests and opposing Iranian interests, not to mention opposing Russian attempts to rise to power over the Middle East. As mentioned before, the sides were chosen far before the Civil War broke out in Syria and goes back to two fateful choices in Iran, the 1953 coup that brought the Shah to power to prevent Soviet Union preeminence in Iran and the 1979 coup that placed the Ayatollahs into power who then chose to join the Soviet Union block of nations despite the attempts by President Carter to make amends for the perfidy under the administration of President Truman. Now all that remain is to have one side prove out victorious and gain, for the moment, the leadership of the Muslim world. Will it be the Shiites with their Russian allies or the Sunni with their American allies? Why does it matter? That is the problematic part of the equation. Which side of this conflict would present the higher likelihood to bring peace to the Middle East? The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood has benefitted greatly from the Arab Winter which was initially represented as the rise of democracy in the Arab and Muslim world but really has simply changed the prearranged winners in every election from some nationalist dictator to some Islamist dictatorial party such as the Peace and Justice Party in Egypt which is nothing more than the Muslim Brotherhood political influence. The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood has risen to power across Northern Africa in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya all with backing and praise from the United States. Those changes in leadership were of no consequence to the power structures as the dictators were Sunnis as are the Islamists who have replaced them. Syria is the first place where the Sunni and Shiite both have a serious shot at controlling Syria. Syria is vitally important to Iran as it represents a critical nation in the Shiite Crescent which currently exists starting in Iran and the Persian Gulf and proceeding through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. Saudi Arabia has the most interest in neutering of Iran and breaking their control through the heart of the Middle East would be an impressive first step. If, on the other hand, the Shiites prevail and retain their control over Syria, the potential for the Shiites to continue their slow spread across the Middle East and, more importantly, the greater oil fields in the center of the Middle East, Iran will continue to spread its strangling tentacles across the Muslim world. Iran had made an attempt at expanding during the Arab Winter revolution in Bahrain in direct opposition to the Bahraini Monarchy, Saudi Arabia. The Shiites were repulsed by heavy Saudi Arabian troops which were sent across the causeway which connects Saudi Arabia with the island nation of Bahrain. This was the second part of the Sunni-Shiite contest for preeminence in the Middle East after the Shiite taking control over Iraq after the United States war to remove Saddam Hussein. Syria will be the deciding battle. Should the Shiites and Iran prove successful the spread of the Iranian influence is likely to continue while should the Sunnis and the Saudi Arabian-Egyptian alliance will present a more stable future.
So, what does this mean we should look for in the future that might signal a change in the status quo? Should the Sunni win out in Syria there will be relative quiet, is the Middle East ever really completely tranquil, and the first sign of trouble coming would be the overthrow of the Saudi Arabian monarchy by either the Wahhabi or the Muslim Brotherhood. This would soon result in the final contest to begin for who will lead the Muslim forces in any eventual contest. Should the Shiites prove victorious in Syria their next target appears to be Turkey followed by Jordan. After Turkey and Jordan, choosing their next target will be problematic as their preference would appear to be Saudi Arabia and their satellite nations they provide protection for such as Bahrain, Kuwait, the Emirates, Qatar and Omar or Egypt in order to begin a march across Northern Africa. Iran is being patient with their slow and inexorable march to gain the preeminent position at the head of the Muslim world. But the first stop of this creeping revolution is in Syria. The worst result that could result in Syria would be actual Russian or American troops intervening in the Syrian Civil War. Should either of these nations transit from arming their chosen side to actual boots on the ground or even fighters in the skies, the other will be obliged to also enter the war. Where that leads is unimaginable and something to be avoided at all costs. The critical point of no return will come when one side appears poised to prevail and defeat the other side and the United States or Russia will have to either accept defeat of their surrogate or intervene. Intervention should be avoided but I seriously doubt that either President Obama or President Putin is capable of accepting defeat. That means that the only end to Syria may be decided across the entire planet and that should scare any reasonable person greatly. This does not bode to end well or even to end any other way than a devastating conflagration.
Beyond the Cusp