Monday, November 21, 2011

Compared to Syria, the fall of Libya was a piece of cake

World View: Gaddafi's removal affected only one country. If the Assad regime is ousted, the reverberations will be felt across the Middle East for decades to come

By Patrick Cockburn

"President Bashar al-Assad's enemies are closing in for the kill. The Arab League is suspending Syria, and Turkey, once a close ally, is leading the pack in seeking to displace the government that has ruled for 40 years. Arab leaders are talking to West European states about deploying the same mix of political, military and economic sanctions against Syria that was used in Libya.

This final assault is already producing convulsions across the Middle East and beyond, because the outcome of the struggle will have an explosive impact on the entire region. By comparison, the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was a marginal event.....

How will Iran and Iraq, the two most important Shia states, respond to the growing likelihood of the fall of the government in Damascus? The Iranians will do all they can to prop it up, but already suspect this may not be enough. Consequently, they will respond to the loss of their Syrian ally by increasing their influence in Iraq. "They will do everything to hold Iraq as their last line of defence," Dr Attiyah says, "but the country will become a battleground.".....

The fall of the government in Syria will not be confined to one country, as happened in Libya. It will throw the whole Middle East into turmoil. Turkish leaders say privately they have been given a free hand by the US and Britain to do what they want. But the Saudis have no wish to see Turkey become the champions of the Muslim world. The battle for Syria is already producing fresh rivalries and the seeds of future conflicts."

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