Libya down, Soon Iran: Strategic calculations behind U.S. agenda on Syria
August 17, 2012 (TSR) – With the deadly Syrian turmoil dragging on, the confrontation between the United States and Iran over the convoluted crisis is gradually rising to the surface.
Tehran on Thursday hosted an international meeting to call for “serious and inclusive” dialogue between Syria’s government and opposition, while Washington claimed that “the Iranian behavior in Syria is destructive.”
The diplomatic wrestling indicates that the Syria issue involves not only the antagonism between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the rebels, but also the United States’ and Iran’s strategies and interests in the region.
The past two years have seen dramatic changes sweep across the Middle East, with the downfall of some traditional U.S. allies such as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
These changes, which began after the United States had set deadlines for its troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and announced the strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific, were not completely within Washington’s expectations.
On the one hand, the United States does not want the upheavals in the Middle East to disturb its set strategic policy. On the other, it intends to take the opportunity to eliminate long-existing anti-U.S. powers in the region and foster a new generation of pro-U.S. forces so as to protect the U.S. interests.
Given that, the United States has others targets in mind when it rattles its saber at Syria — not least Iran. Should the Assad government be toppled, Iran would be further isolated.
Geopolitically speaking, Syria is a key link in the so-called “axis of resistance,” a string of anti-U.S. forces that also include Iran, the Lebanese group of Hezbollah and the Palestinian movement of Hamas. A Syrian collapse would probably bring the alliance with it.
In fact, the coalition has already shown signs of cracking. Hamas has shown signs of uncoupling from Syria and Iran. Its exiled leaders have relocated from from Damascus to Qatar and Egypt, and it has publicly voiced support for the Syrian opposition.
Meanwhile, in view of the recent arrest of some senior Hezbollah members supportive of the Assad government, the fate of the Lebanese group seems to hang in the balance.
Thus the development of the Syria crisis is particularly important to Iran, which counts on Syria to jointly prop up the regional coalition and counterbalance the U.S. and Israeli influence.
As the Syria crisis rolls on, Iran’s anxiety has become increasingly obvious, and it has been cranking up its mediation efforts over the conflict.
As a matter of fact, UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan has openly suggested involving Iran in the search for a political solution to the Syria crisis, and many countries have endorsed the proposal.
Iran’s involvement, however, is firmly opposed by the United States, whose insistence gives birth to an alarming question: How far would Tehran go in order to secure its interdependence with Syria?
Although the U.S. plan to capitalize on the regional upheavals and implement its Mideast and global strategies is well calculated, the outcome might not meet its expectations, as is the case in Iraq.
Syria is a heavyweight and key domino in the Middle East arena, while Iran is vital to global energy supplies. The two nations, and the Middle East at large, are unlikely to let outside powers like the United States to impose a future on them.
After all, they need to shape their own future by themselves.