By: Ibrahim al-Amin - Published Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The Americans may feel they are losing ground in our region, but there is one area where they are not.
Their plans were derailed by the failure of the invasion of Iraq, the weakening of Israel’s strategic position, and the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. But none of that prompted them to alter their policies, and now they are scoring successes.
These relate to the fragmentation of Arab countries: From Somalia, reduced to a leftover of the worldwide war; to Sudan, dismembered and preoccupied with feeding its people; and also Iraq, mired in the agony of protracted war; disintegrating Libya; Tunisia, sunk in its own brand of Islamic rule, and the other disoriented Maghreb countries; Egypt, as it slowly swaps sides; Syria, engrossed in a major national crisis and facing a fierce colonial onslaught; Yemen, where terrifying splits loom; Jordan, primed to explode from poverty and identity issues; and Lebanon, which is poised for a fresh civil war.
All should be alert to what this means. It has nothing to do with the theories espoused by those pundits who are on the payrolls of the rulers and death-mongers. They operate as court clerics, issuing fatwas to suit their masters’ narrow and petty interests. They have forgotten all about the cause they originally espoused, and the people out of whose sacrifices they made their names, never giving them a written or verbal mention.
What this means is that the months ahead are set to be among the harshest in our region’s history. More Arab and Islamic blood is set to be shed, and a perverse image of the Arabs will emerge in their own eyes as well as those of others – all in the name of freedom, independence and human rights.
A year and a half into the Syrian crisis, events are being driven by calculations that are not entirely under American control. Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have acquired their own agendas too. And they are poised to engage fully in the ongoing war in Syria.
The procedure is, first, for the UN to announce that Kofi Annan has failed, and to blame that on the Syrian regime. The issue will then be referred back the Security Council. The moment Russia blocks a resolution endorsing an international free-for-all against Syria, these countries will declare that they are obliged, by moral imperative and public pressure, to take direct action without delay.
That is when the plans which they have been preparing for the past few months are to be put into effect. They entail assuming full trusteeship over the Syrian people by tightening their hold over the offshore Syrian opposition and, in particular, the armed opposition groups. Work is currently underway to link these groups to each other under a joint command overseen by the armed forces of these countries, and to supply them with new kinds of sophisticated arms. We will see weapons taken out of the Gulf states’ vast stockpiles for tests on Syrian soil, and an armed popular revolution proclaimed.
The march of folly will then proceed, with the aim of wearing the Syrians down, forcing the regime to make concessions, and creating “safe areas” in enclaves controlled by gunmen — especially near the borders with Turkey, Lebanon, and if possible Jordan. Thus will the new ground-rules be established.
Faced with this, the Syrian regime will abandon any commitment to restoring calm or scaling down military operations. It, too, will go all-out in the confrontation. Given its need for support from elsewhere, a region-wide confrontation will ensue in the name of the Syrian people, leading to further tensions in Iraq, and in Lebanon too.
Efforts have been made to prepare northern Lebanon, and other parts of the country, to take part in this showdown, either by providing whatever support they can to the Syrian oppositionists, or by opening new fronts in order to keep Syria’s allies occupied. This can only be done under the banner of sectarian conflict. The Lebanese, like the Syrians and the Iraqis, will be made to pay more in both lives and property.
The latest news from the Gulf states is ominous. It indicates that they are ready to embark on a major adventure. Having attempted to take over the Arab League, they are shifting focus to strengthening their hold over the Arab world’s economies and financial and investment sectors. They are also stepping up the media war: not only by denying their adversaries any platform and acquiring control of as many Arab media outlets as possible, but also extending their influence to media in the wider region and beyond – given the availability of pundits willing to be hired as cheerleaders. All will be done, of course, in the name of protecting the Syrian people’s right to self-determination.
Some decision-makers in these capitals believe they have the power to make big changes to the political map of the Arab world. They also think that toppling the regime in Syria, even if that leads to Libyan-style anarchy, would enable the confrontation with Iran to be ratcheted up a level. They have worked hard to take Palestine off the agenda and turn Iran into the adversary and enemy, with the aid of forces whose ideological and religious outlooks make them see Iran as a genuine menace to many, and the principal threat to the current rulers of the states of the Arabian Peninsula.
Most ominous is that the countries now providing open-ended support to the armed opposition in Syria have decided to up the attack with a campaign of assassinations, bombings and disturbances aimed at sowing chaos and extending the conflict to the entire country. This while putting together large brigades of fighters capable of occupying entire districts or towns, and dealing blows to the army and security forces powerful enough to undermine their support for the regime.
Many people used to think that these countries merely do as they are ordered, and do not understand the consequences. Whatever the case, they have become major players in a plan that will inevitably set fires blazing across the entire region, not just in one country.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.