The “Arab Winter” or the end of Western hegemony in the Middle East
United States want to weaken Iran geopolitically by Assad’s fall
by Prof Dr Albert A. Stahel, Institute for Strategic Studies, Wädenswil
In the past 10 years the United States have intervened four times directly or indirectly, politically or militarily in Arab states. By their interventions the United States toppled the ruling despots in Iraq in 2003, in Libya in 2011 and Egypt also in 2011 and Yemen in 2012. In the case of Iraq, they had the former ruler Saddam Hussein executed by his domestic opponents. After an intense bombardment by their own forces and those of the NATO allies, they had Libya’s Gaddafi castrated by a mob on the hood of a vehicle, and then shot by a paid mercenary. As far as the pharaoh of Egypt Hosni Mubarak is concerned, he must still wait for his final sentence in an intransparent trial which might result in his execution.
What were finally the results and thus the performance records of these US interventions? The human rights violations of the despots should not be apologized post memoriam, but still it is worth looking at the current situation in three countries. After the withdrawal of the United States in 2011, Iraq – due to vote-manipulations by al-Maliki’s Shiite government and the Saudi regime’s intrigues – is on the brink of civil war. Al-Maliki is supported by Tehran. The Sunni tribes and Salafists are financed and instigated by Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the Saudis al-Qaeda experienced a revival in Iraq, which is reflected in a series of attacks against Shiites and their religious institutions.
After the violent removal of Gaddafi, there is a mess in Libya, as well. They didn’t succeed in forming a functioning government and administration. Without them, Libya has no future. Again, there is anarchy, which is especially exploited by the Salafists and their al-Qaeda offshoot.
In Egypt, the fall of Mubarak led to the Muslim Brotherhood’s and its President Mursi’s seizure of power. Since then the economy of Egypt has been decomposing. The country is at odds in domestic politics. Again, the Salafists agitate against religious minorities, such as the Christian Copts. The only functioning institution would be the army, but the intentions of the generals have remained unclear until now. Perhaps they have come to terms with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Syria is obviously the next candidate for the overthrow of a despot. After the fall of Saddam Hussein and the US withdrawal from Iraq, al-Maliki receives his instructions from the ayatollahs of Iran. Due to the support of their allies, the Hezbollah of Lebanon, and the support of the Syria’s Alawite al-Assad, the geopolitical influence of Tehran almost extends across the entire Shia Crescent in the Middle East. Also, the western part of Afghanistan with the old capital of Herat is part of the Iranian sphere of influence today. The United States want to weaken Iran geopolitically by Assad’s overthrow. The Shia Crescent shall be divided into two parts. In these endeavours the United States are supported by their Saudi allies, who thus want to bring down their Shiite arch enemy Iran. To this end, they support their Sunni executors in Syria and Iraq with money and weapons.
Also the second ally of the United States in the region, Erdogan’s Turkey, wants to eliminate Assad and establish a Sunni regime in Damascus. Erdogan, who is thus guided by the delusion of a re-establishment of the Ottoman Empire, makes the supply of arms to the Syrian rebels possible. Willingly, the NATO allies Britain and France are applauding the demise of Syria, however without bearing in mind the consequences of Assad fall. The bleeding of the Syrian regime is likely to lead to the decay of Syria in different parts – a Sunni state and a refuge for the Alawites. It also might open a hitherto little-noticed Pandora’s box. It would not only be expected that the Salafists of Riyadh’s grace could take power in Damascus, they would unite very quickly with their comrades in the Iraq and try to establish a Sunni Empire. The result would be both a collapse of Syria and Iraq. As in Iraq, the Christian minority of Syria - 10% of the Syrian population of 22.5 million – would be distributed and exterminated. The Syrian civil war is likely to lead, such as in Libya, to a supranational anarchy and the destabilization of the entire Middle East. Every Arab State and probably also Turkey could get caught in the undertow of this fall.
The victory of the Salafists in Syria is likely to be synonymousy with the reign of al-Qaeda in Damascus that would not hesitate in their religious zeal to demonstrate their power to Europe by terrorist attacks. Instead of the expectations of an “Arab Spring”, we would get an “Arab Winter”. The former hegemonic position of the US and its allies in the Middle East would then only be a footnote in history.•