Monday, April 16, 2018

Blowback from the Syrian Civil War

For decades, the conventional wisdom was that the Palestinian-Israel conflict was so central to all Arabs that solving any other problem required the Palestinian issue to be solved first. The Syriab civil war (which became a multi-war) killed that conventional wisdom.

Saudi Arabia is leading Arab states to work with Israel as Egypt did to Arab condemnation 40 years ago and as Jordan has done more quietly. The reason for the latest Saudi effort is to oppose Iran whose influence is rising in the region in the wake of Iranian expeditionary forces and support for actors hostile to the Sunni Arab world.

Funny enough, Egyptian support for Iraq against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War was the path Egypt used to regain the good opinion of the Arab (other than Syria, which supported Iran) world.

It is quite likely that the Syrian civil war paved the way for Saudi Arabia to more openly side with Israel. And not just from the common enemy of Iran.

No, I mean the fact that the Syrian civil war proved that the Palestinian question and hatred of Israel over that issue is not the central factor in the Arab world.

Recall that before the first revolts that flowed from the Arab Spring, Assad claimed that hostility to Israel was a pillar of his government:

In a rare interview, Bashar Assad was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as acknowledging that the toppling of Tunisia's longtime ruler and the protesters that have left Hosni Mubarak's government teetering in Egypt signaled a "new era" in the Middle East.

But he said Syria, which has gradually shed its socialist past in favor of the free market in recent years, was insulated from the upheaval because he understood his people's needs and has united them in common cause against Israel.

Yeah, a lot of Syrians proved they hate Assad more than Israel.

Further, Hezbollah proved that their main mission is to obey Iran which ordered them to fight and die to support Assad rather than confront Israel, which is supposedly their primary mission. Oh well. If even Hezbollah didn't think the Palestinian issue came first, why should any other Arabs think so?

And the prospect of Iran gaining a firmer grip on an Arab state by supporting Assad made finding an ally against Iran more important for the Arab states. Certainly more important than the fate of the Palestinians who long believed they are queen of the victim prom.