Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Syria: The Media Enigma?

Who’s right in today’s stories on Syria, the Associated Press or Haaretz? Is Syria at risk of joining the Shia crescent as the AP suggested?

Like other U.S. allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Jordan is concerned about the growing Shiite Muslim influence, stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The fear is that the hardline Tehran government will dominate the Mideast and give rise to more extremism, jeopardizing a Mideast settlement and threatening those nations.

This is U.S. spin as Jordan knows Syria is secular Sunni. Baathist leaders in Syria and Iraq almost merged countries decades ago.

Meanwhile a newspaper in the only country in the region with nuclear weapons that has historically attacked and taken land from its neighbors gave another view of Syria:

One of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime - the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority - asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi'a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran's policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

So what is Syria and what do they want? I’m afraid the U.S. is not in a good position to answer as we have no diplomatic relations with that country. I have a pretty good idea what the U.S. and Israel want at the moment though. They would love to tie up every country in the region except Iran with a combination of carrots and sticks.

They can be mid-carrot when Israel launches a pre-emptive raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Enough sticks will be in the region to make most countries think twice about intervening on Iran’s behalf. The Golan Heights, West Bank and previously withheld Palestinian tax revenue can all be snatched off the bargaining table for those who behave badly post attack. Even a carrot can be used to whack someone…

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