Cheat Sheet: Syria crisis: Where key countries stand (BBC)

The US and its allies are said to be considering military action against sites in Syria. But what do countries in the region and beyond think about any possible action?

A boy shouts slogans during a demonstration against Israeli air strikes in Syria in Yemen

The possibility of Western strikes on Syria has divided opinion in the region

The US and its allies are said to be considering military action against sites in Syria. But what do countries in the region and beyond think about any possible action?

Turkey

The Turkish government has been one of the most strident critics of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since early on in the uprising. On Monday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper that the country was ready to join an international coalition for action against Syria even in the absence of agreement at the UN Security Council.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf

The monarchies of the Gulf are said to have been key in funding and supplying the rebel forces fighting against forces loyal to President Assad. Saudi Arabia has been a rival of the Syrian government for years and has been particularly active in pushing for action against Mr Assad, with former Saudi ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan reportedly trying in recent weeks to garner international support for further support for the rebels.

Israel

Despite initially avoiding becoming involved in the conflict, Israel has carried outthree strikes on targets in Syria this year, reportedly to prevent weapons shipments reaching the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Shelling and gunfire from Syria has also hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, drawing return Israeli fire.

In recent days, Israeli officials have condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces and hinted at support for military action. “Our finger must always be on the pulse. Ours is a responsible finger and if necessary, it will also be on the trigger,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

However, Israeli officials will be aware that any Western action against Syria risks a repeat of events in the first Gulf War in 1991, when Iraq attacked Tel Aviv with Scud missiles in attempt to draw Israel into the conflict and prompt the withdrawal of Arab countries from the war. Reports say sales of gas masks in Israel have gone up in response to speculation over military action.

A burning car is seen at the entrance of a mosque which was attacked by a car bomb, in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon

Lebanon is seeing increasing violence linked to the conflict in Syria

Lebanon

The Lebanese Foreign Minister Adana Mansour told Lebanese radio on Monday that he did not support the idea of strikes on Syria, saying: “I don’t think this action would serve peace, stability and security in the region.”

Two bomb attacks which killed almost 60 people in Lebanon this month were linked to tensions over the Syrian conflict. The Lebanese Shia militant movement Hezbollah has openly taken part in combat in Syria on the side of the government, and there have been reports of some in the Sunni community fighting on the side of the rebels. In addition, the country is already playing host to the largest number of Syrian refugees of any country.

Iran

Iran has been Syria’s main backer in the region since well before the current conflict and has been highly critical of any prospect of intervention.

On Tuesday, Iran warned a top UN official visiting Tehran of “serious consequences” of any military action.

Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi also repeated claims that it was in fact rebels who used chemical weapons, AFP reports.

US

Following a cautious reaction to the initial reports of a chemical weapons attack, American rhetoric has hardened in recent days. Secretary of State John Kerry said the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government was “undeniable” and a “moral obscenity”.

Washington has recently bolstered its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, prompting speculation that preparation for an attack is underway. Analysts believe the most likely US action would be sea-launched cruise missiles targeting Syrian military installations.

 boy, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, is treated at a hospital in the Duma

US President Barack Obama had previously said the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line”

UK

The UK is drawing up contingency plans for military action, Prime Minster David Cameron’s office has said. Any action would be “proportionate”, lawful and follow agreement with international allies, a spokesman for Mr Cameron said.

On Monday Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC that diplomatic pressure on Syria had failed and that the UK, “the United States, [and] many other countries including France, are clear that we can’t allow the idea in the 21st Century that chemical weapons can be used with impunity”.

France

The day after the reports of the attack near Damascus, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for “a reaction of force” if the use of chemical weapons was proven. He has also suggested that the UN Security Council could be bypassed “in certain circumstances”.

France has been amongst the most hawkish Western countries with regard to Syria, being the first Western power to recognise the main opposition coalition as the Syrian people’s legitimate representative. In May France, along with the UK, successfully lobbied for the EU’s arms embargo to be lifted so as to allow further supplies to the rebels.

Russia

Russia is one of Mr Assad’s most important international backers and has stressed the need for a political solution to be found to the crisis.

It has sharply criticised any possibility of Western strikes on Syria, saying action taken outside the security council threatened “catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa”.

China

China has joined Russia in blocking resolutions critical of Syria at the UN Security Council. It has also criticised the prospect of strikes against Syria.

The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said Western powers were rushing to conclusions about who might have used chemical weapons in Syria before UN inspectors had completed their investigation.

Cheat Sheet: Syria and the Chemical Attacks

Damascus by SPOT Satellite

Damascus by SPOT Satellite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comentario: Jabhat al Nusra y los Combatientes Extranjeros

Syria Independence Flag

Syria Independence Flag (Photo credit: FreedomHouse2)

Los Estados Unidos han dado un paso más en la guerra civil en Siria, al colocar al grupo Jabhat al Nusra, en su lista de organizaciones terroristas (Foreign Terrorist Organization), de manera completamente expeditiva.

De esta manera se establece que mas allá de la ayuda que el grupo este prestando a la Ejercito Libre Sirio, llegado el momento tendrá la prerrogativa de capturar a quienes formen parte Jabhat al-Nusra por sus conexiones con Al Qaeda en Irak.

Entre la cantidad de grupos Jihadistas en Siria se conoce que muchos de estos grupos provienen de otras partes de mundo islámico, lo que los diarios árabes han dado a llamar a este movimiento como “Jihadistas Globales”. Observan tambien la dificultad para identificar entre quienes siguen los conceptos de la “Jihad Islámica” y los que se denominan “Salafistas Moderados”.

Jabhat al Nusra o el Frente Nusra, hizo su debut el 24 de enero de 2012, con su afán mayor de ayudar a imponer un Califato Universal bajo la ley islámica, pero mas puntualmente establecer la Sharia en Siria. Algunos de estos grupos se han formado “ad hoc”, con el motivo de organizarse de maneras mas convenientes y naturales para los que arriban de regiones iguales y como sospechan muchos, con identidades que provienen directamente de Al Qaeda Central.

En Siria ven un “escenario” mucho mas complejo políticamente pero más accesible dentro de lo militar que el que se desarrolla en Afganistán e Irak. Reportes de las Naciones Unidas reportan alrededor de 11 nacionalidades se pueden encontrar dentro de los combatientes extranjeros.

En algunos casos, grupos Jihadistas han renunciado al uso de los símbolos del Ejercito Libre Sirio, y solo utilizan los estandartes propios (Como las banderas negras de Al Qaeda) de los grupos que han llegado a territorio Sirio. Muchos de ellos directamente llegados de Irak, para combatir en el frente de Aleppo junto con otros grupos que tambien promocionan un futuro estado islámico para Siria, hecho que es bien visto por aquellos que han financiado durante estos 20 meses de conflicto tanto al Ejercito Libre Sirio, como a los grupos extranjeros. Dinero que proviene de particulares por toda la región del Golfo Pérsico, con el siempre presente miedo de parte de las potencias occidentales, que parte de este financiamiento termine en operaciones terroristas en otros lugares del mundo, donde los intereses occidentales se encuentren.

Al Nusra es un grupo completo en términos militares, con veteranos de gran experiencia en el frente, considerado uno de los “mejores y más valientes batallones” por el Coronel Rial Asaad, del Ejército libre Sirio (1) . Habiendo mostrado sus capacidades en Afganistán, Libia e Irak. (Crónicas periodísticas alegan que tanto Qatar como Arabia Saudita han filtrado combatientes por las fronteras de Turquía, Líbano y Jordania)(2) por lo que se considera que la mayoría de sus miembros son wahabí y con miembros takfiri, ya que incluye elementos radicales islámicos.

Aunque los lideres de Jabath Nusra, que provendrían de Irak (Mosul) tendrían la intención de exportar la idea de la Jihad que invoca Al Qaeda en Irak ( AQI – de la cual seria una rama) hacia las fuerzas opositoras al régimen de Assad, la pregunta es y será como actuaran luego de que termine la guerra civil y como lograran contener a dichos grupos para no caer en guerras sectarias y vengativas, especialmente de las minorías que se encuentran dentro de Siria y que son parte del gobierno, como mas de un analista señala poco puede hacer la comunidad internacional al respecto.

1. “الأسعد : “النصرة” هي الفصيل الأفضل” (al Nusra es la Mejor Faccion), 13/12/12 disponible en http://youkal.com/2012-12-02-14-05-23/24-26/1228-2012-12-13-22-07-44
2. “الإرهابيون في سورية يرتكبون جرائم بشعة” , (Terrorists in Syria commit heinous crimes), 12/12/12 disponible en http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=2&Id=371638

Did Russia Just Throw Assad Under the Bus?

English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar...

English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. Русский: СОЧИ, БОЧАРОВ РУЧЕЙ. С Президентом Сирии Башаром Асадом. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Western press accounts jumped on suggestions today that Russia may be backing away from the beleaguered regime of Bashar al-Assad. According to reported remarks of Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s point-person for Middle East diplomacy, “As far as the victory of the opposition is concerned, it cannot be ruled out, and, to our regret, one should face the facts. The tendency is right in that direction, the regime and the authorities are increasingly losing control over an increasing territory.

 

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/13/did_russia_just_throw_assad_under_the_bus

Syria’s Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming? | World | TIME.com

Vast swathes of northern Syria, especially in the province of Idlib, have slipped out of the hands of President Bashar Assad, if not quite out of his reach. The area is now a de facto liberated zone, though the daily attacks by Damascus’s air force and the shelling from the handful of checkpoints and bases regime forces have fallen back to are a reminder that the rebel hold on theterritory remains fluid and fragile.

What is remarkable is that this substantial strip of ‘free” Syria has been patched together in the last 18 months by military defectors, students, tradesmen, farmers and pharmacists who have not only withstood the Syrian army’s withering fire, but in some instances repelled them using a hodgepodge of limited, light weaponry. The feat is even more amazing when one considers the disarray among the outside powers supplying arms to the loosely allied band of rebels.
Syria’s Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming? | World | TIME.com.

Five Reasons Why the Assad Regime Survives | TIME.com

President Bashar al-Assad promised Wednesday to ”cleanse” Syria of the rebels that have challenged his rule, but he’s unlikely to achieve that goal. Indeed, in a rare interview with Syrian TV, Assad conceded that his promised victory would not come soon. Still, there may be more than empty braggadocio to Assad’s claim that, from his regime’s point of view, “the situation is better now.” That’s because although his forces are unlikely to ever restore Assad’s authoritarian control over all of Syria or to pummel the rebellion into submission, at the same time there’s little sign right now of the Syrian rebels or their regional and international backers being able to muster the knockout punch that topples the regime. The rebellion has made intractable gains, but the regime sustains a capacity to fight that negates the narrative of an isolate despot facing the wrath of his people.

 

Syria’s Disintegration: How Far Will it Spread? – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Flag of the United Arab Republic 1958-1961. Th...

Flag of the United Arab Republic 1958-1961. The flag is still the flag of Syria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It no longer matters whether what is happening in Syria is a revolution or a conspiracy that preempted a potential revolution — or even a conspiracy targeting the “non-aligned” countries. The substance of the matter is: Is it possible to save Syria from imminent disintegration?

Syria’s Disintegration: How Far Will it Spread? – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.