[Marxism] Crystal-ball gazing ain't what it used to be

Louis Proyect 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.

Full: http://rt.com/op-edge/us-war-iran-begins-syria-096/

  * * * *

NY Times November 25, 2013
U.S. and Saudis in Growing Rift as Power Shifts


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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