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article imageOp-Ed: The Potential Worsening of the Dire and Violent Syrian Situation

By Paul Iddon     Apr 6, 2012 in Politics
Amidst the UN and Arab League attempts to broker a ceasefire and mediate between the two warring sides that are engulfing Syria into bitter war there is every chance the violence could become substantially worse.
The Syrian uprising which is over a year old now has seen the Baathist Assad family dictatorship (which has been continually in power since 1970) fight a very brutal war against an armed opposition. What began as an offshoot of the broader Arab Spring turned into a brutal and extremely violent struggle as Assad instigated a crackdown.
Around that time a UN Mandated no-fly-zone was put in place over Libya to prevent Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from indiscriminately strafing his own people. This quickly turned into a policy of aiding the rebels who originated in Benghazi in their fight to overthrow the Colonel.
Some argue that such a policy should be adopted with Syria, where Assad's forces have in recent weeks indiscriminately shelled the third largest city of Homs and killed scores of innocent civilians. However when arguing for intervention many people fail to understand the implications of dismantling a Baathist apparatus like the one in place in Syria. It would require an extensive intervention of the kind the West may not be able to effectively undertake.
At present the two warring sides in Syria are telling two very different stories in the run up to the UN deadline for a ceasefire. The opposition is claiming the Assad regime is merely acting in goodwill in order to buy more time to use more brute force in order to put down the opposition, whilst the Assad regimes counter claim is that the rebels are taking advantage of the Syrian troops withdrawal from cities and towns in order attempt and further destabilize the country.
On the subject of destabilization, the United States has opted to provide the Syrian opposition with non-lethal equipment. Russia which had previously - along with China - vetoed a UN resolution condemning Assad for his brutal crackdown has complained that this is blatant support for one side of the war. Saudi Arabia has openly called for the arming and training of the rebels fighting Assad. The Iranian Quds force have also provided Assad's regime with equipment, mostly in order to monitor and block communications (in fact this very recent and very damning report paints a rather sordid picture that shows Iran in cahoots with Hezbollah is doing its utmost to keep Assad in place, but prepare to maximize their influence and control in case his regime is toppled).
Syria has been Iran's only real ally in the region and is of vital importance to Tehran since it acts as the main supply line of weaponry and aid to Hezbollah in Lebanon. However like the Baathist apparatus in Iraq the Syrian regime is run by a small minority of Alawites. If the Assad regime is overthrown any successor government or regime would probably be put in place by the majority of the Sunnis within the country. So in a sense Iran and Saudi Arabia are competing in a proxy war. The outcome of which will be of substantial importance for the diverging interests of both sides. This is in a latent manner similar to how Saudi Arabia and Egypt backed opposing sides in the Yemeni Civil War in the 1960's in an attempt to undermine each others broader interests in the region.
It could become progressively more violent and the situation could grow ever more dire if contesting powers who seek to engage rivals in proxy battles on Syrian soil -- hence Saudi Arabia directly backing the rebels whilst Iran is directly backing the Assad regime -- which would result in a full blown civil war which surely wouldn't alleviate the pain and suffering of the Syrian people but instead substantially increase it.
All these developing factors of the wider overall problem could very well in the coming weeks and months be the cause for an increase in the already horrendous violence that has taken in excess of 8,000 lives, a large amount of them civilians. One hopes that the UN Security Council can put forth policy that will keep the regional rivals at bay for the sake of Syria and her people. The relative institutions and international authorities while there is still time to work in earnest to prevent the present horror show in Syria from getting any more scary, horrific and gory.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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