[Marxism] Crystal-ball gazing ain't what it used to be
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 26 08:43:56 MST 2013
Eric Draitser, “The war on Iran begins…in Syria”, August 28, 2013
In the decades since the revolution of 1979 which created the modern
Islamic Republic of Iran, the US policy toward that country has been
antagonistic and belligerent to such a degree that Iran has been forced,
out of sheer necessity, to rely very heavily on its few regional and
international allies. And so, given the political posture of Bashar
Assad, like that of his father before him, Damascus has been viewed as
Iran’s key political partner, providing Iran with a crucial ally along
the border with Israel and a bridge to the Hezbollah organization in
Southern Lebanon. Additionally, a multi-ethnic society like Syria with a
dominant Shiite-Alawite demographic presents itself as a natural friend
to Shiite Iran. However, the importance of this relationship does not
stop at mere similarities.
When one looks at the players involved in the war in Syria, it becomes
clear that the Sunni monarchies – Saudi Arabia and Qatar primarily –
have committed to the war in order to ensure their own continued
hegemony, especially in terms of energy production. Qatar, being one of
the world’s wealthiest gas exporters, views the growing relationship
between Iran and Syria, especially the gas pipeline deal, as an
existential threat to their own standing. The Saudis, long since mortal
enemies and rivals of the Shia Iranians, also have come to view Syria as
merely a battleground in the larger proxy war with Iran.
And then of course, there’s Israel. Perched comfortably on Syria’s
border, Israel has played a key role in stoking tensions and fomenting
unrest on the other side of the Golan Heights. Not only did Israel carry
out a number of blatantly illegal bombings inside Syria’s borders, there
have been dozens of mainstream accounts, including videos, of Israeli
Special forces commandos inside of Syria. Naturally, Israeli intentions
are to further their own interests which for decades have been centered
on the destruction of Iran, their main regional competitor and rival.
* * * *
NY Times November 25, 2013
U.S. and Saudis in Growing Rift as Power Shifts
By ROBERT F. WORTH
WASHINGTON — There was a time when Saudi and American interests in the
Middle East seemed so aligned that the cigar-smoking former Saudi
ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was viewed as one of the most
influential diplomats in Washington.
Those days are over. The Saudi king and his envoys — like the Israelis —
have spent weeks lobbying fruitlessly against the interim nuclear accord
with Iran that was reached in Geneva on Sunday. In the end, there was
little they could do: The Obama administration saw the nuclear talks in
a fundamentally different light from the Saudis, who fear that any letup
in the sanctions will come at the cost of a wider and more dangerous
Iranian role in the Middle East.
Although the Saudis remain close American allies, the nuclear accord is
the culmination of a slow mutual disenchantment that began at the end of
the Cold War.
For decades, Washington depended on Saudi Arabia — a country of 30
million people but the Middle East’s largest reserves of oil — to shore
up stability in a region dominated by autocrats and hostile to another
ally, Israel. The Saudis used their role as the dominant power in OPEC
to help rein in Iraq and Iran, and they supported bases for the American
military, anchoring American influence in the Middle East and beyond.
But the Arab uprisings altered the balance of power across the Middle
East, especially with the ouster of the Egyptian president, Hosni
Mubarak, a close ally of both the Saudis and the Americans.
The United States has also been reluctant to take sides in the worsening
sectarian strife between Shiite and Sunni, in which the Saudis are firm
partisans on the Sunni side.
At the same time, new sources of oil have made the Saudis less
essential. And the Obama administration’s recent diplomatic initiatives
on Syria and Iran have left the Saudis with a deep fear of abandonment.
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