Islamic State fighters lift their rifles and shout victory slogans. (Al Jazeera)
Army of the lost and drifting
The Islamic State stands no chance of survival. It now has almost every single regional and international player as an enemy. Its ranks are filled with the lost and drifting of the world, who seek easy solutions to their miserable lives.
The Middle East as a whole, though, and the situations in Iraq and Syria in particular, do not allow for such illusive way out of one´s personal identity crisis. Soon, this army of the hopeless will turn into an army of the disillusioned and erode.
Some of the main negotiators of the Iran nuclear interim deal at the table (from left): Russian Foreign Minister of Sergei Lavrov Russia, the EU´s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Cathrin Ashton and Iran´s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (BBC)
Comment: The Iranian Elephant on the Middle East Table
The US can´t handle everything in the world at the same time. Its focus shifts to the Pacific, away from Europe and the Middle East.
In Syria, Iran has manoeuvred itself into a position allowing it to extract concessions from its foes. It can´t dominate, but now it sits like a huge elephant on the table, in the middle of the region and just won´t go away. Its opponents have to deal with that, and they obviously don´t know how.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri stunned his fellow countrymen with his readiness to build a cabinet together with his foe Hezbollah. (DW-TV)
An explosive and dangerous mixture of war and several security incidents has accumulated in the Levant. Lebanon is seen by many in the “eye of the storm”. We don’t think such is on the horizon for the time being.
With its engagement in Syria, Iran has carved out chances to broaden its influence in the region. It cannot dominate, but it has manoeuvred itself in position to force others into making significant concessions. A new balance of power is being established that could safe the region from catastrophe.
Will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani at the World Economic Forum in Davos? (World Economic Forum)
Indications of new settlements for the Middle East are peeking around the corner. From our point of view those potential developments are logic, because everything else would bring about chaos over the whole region. Chaos that could easily spread like wildfire and get out of hand. No major player can afford that.
Hawks can make decisions
On January 17, 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, citing Canadian CTV News, he would consider meeting Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani if the latter recognized Israel´s right of existence.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situation in Syria at a meeting in Paris, on January 13, 2014. (DW-TV)
The international community and regional powers have obviously come to the conclusion not to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to ward off a bigger catastrophe in the region. We think the next step is not far: from passive support for the rebels to active support for Assad and his security apparatus against a growing Jihadist movement.
Payback statement by Syria
On January 15, as reported by Reuters and the Lebanese Broadcasting cooperation (LBC), Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said intelligence services of some Western countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have visited Damascus to discuss security cooperation.
Men are trying to extinguish fires after the explosion in Tripoli. (Euronews)
Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 2
Hezbollah, rebels or a third party?
The double car bombing in Tripoli might well be the work of Syrian rebels or their Lebanese sympathizers. Though, in Lebanon many national and international players have plenty of reasons on a daily base to go after on another.
We think, Hezbollah does not need to show its strength, and surely it is not served well with an angry Sunnite community at home, consequently playing into the hands of an alleged Sunnite militant strategy mentioned in the first part of this estimation.
Retaliation into no man´s land
The morning before the deadly car bombing in Tripoli, Israel did attack a target in Naameh, south of Beirut, with an retaliatory air strike. In the evening before, four rockets had been fired from Lebanon towards Israel without causing damage.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir in a press conference before his escape. (MTV)
Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 1
Fears of escalating violence are rising in the Levant, after three car bombs struck Lebanon, the tiny neighbour of Israel and Syria, in just one week. Will that change the current situation in Lebanon basically? We don´t think so – but several other factors could.
Car bombings in Beirut and Tripoli
Thursday, August 15, a car bomb went off in the Beirut neighbourhood of Dahiyeh, a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite organisation Hezbollah. At least 24 people were killed and more than 120 wounded. The perpetrators remain at large, though the basic and most rational assumption is, Syria-related Sunni extremists are responsible.
Screenshot of an undated video showing Maher and Bashar al-Assad. (France24)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – (Part 6, final)
So where do we go from here? Our estimations are based on the assumption that regional and international powers have come to the conclusion not to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to ward off a bigger catastrophe in the region.
Is he going to restore his power? Difficult to say.
The balance of power seems to have tipped, yes. But neither is the war won nor will he have the free hand, he had before. Assad is heavily indebted to Hezbollah, Iran and Russia now.
Militants in Iraq show their readiness to fight on May 18, 2013. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 5
Iraq heating up Iraq is the most uncertain variable in any current estimation.
Conflicts are heating up in the country again, and gains of Sunnite fighters in Syria have given Sunnites in Iraq motivation to act against the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, by which they feel being discriminated against.
Iraq has the longest border with Syria of all neighbouring countries, running from Turkey to Jordan. With the US not anymore in position to play into internal Iraqi politics, the international community is fearful of future developments in Iraq.