Syria: flashpoint for war with Iran?
Now here's a delicious irony. The New York Times reports that US officials say Iran is supplying Syria with arms through Iraqi airspace, and Washington is quietly putting pressure on Baghdad to shut the air corridor down. We noted last year that the Iraq pull-out (which is largely fictional anyway) could paradoxically lead to war with Iran: the Bush/neocon strategy of playing a Shi'ite card against Iraq's Sunni jihadists and Baathists has resulted in a state as much in Tehran's orbit as Washington's. So holding on to Iraq (with its decisively critical oil reserves) as a US client state could necessitate a severe humbling (at least) of Iran. Now the Syria crisis ups the ante further. We've already noted that the US and UK have established an office block in Istanbul to jointly coordinate aid to the Syrian rebels. Now Reuters reports that France is supplying "aid and money" to rebel-controlled "liberated zones" in the northern provinces of Deir al-Zor, Aleppo and Idlib. (See map.) Just as the US is supposed to be drawing down its military commitments in the Greater Middle East, the Syrian dilemma could be propelling the West towards a virtual reconstitution of the Seleucid Empire, which in the Third Century BCE ruled over Syria, Babylon (Iraq), Parthia (Iran) and Bactria (Afghanistan). Only this time, of course, under US-led multinational rule, not Greek.
We've also pointed out Tehran's obvious hypocrisy in cheering on the protesters in Bahrain while backing the tyrant in Syria (precisely mirrored by the Bahraini regime's cheering on the protesters in Syria while crushing their own). Of course the Sunni-Shi'ite divide is responsible for this hilarious contradiction, and these manipulations are driving the deterioration of what began as a secular pro-democratic revolutionary movement into a sectarian civil war.
In the question of what stance we—meaning progressive activists in the West—take on Syria, it is important that we do not buy into the duplicities of statecraft and feed (to whatever small degree our words and action have impact) this destructive dynamic. We are still looking for secular, pro-democratic, anti-imperilaist forces in Syria that we can support. Finding them, and finding a way to support them, and finding a way to support them that does not loan comfort to imperialist agendas—may not be easy. But the most imperative work almost never is. And it is even more imperative that we do not rally around bloody dictators just because the West happens to oppose them. This is argued eloquently by Pham Binh of the Occupy Wall Street Class War Camp in a piece entitled "Aiding the Syrian Revolution: a Guide to Action," on The North Star website.