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.
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.
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.
Opposition groups protest in Jordan on October 5, 2012. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 4
Jordan feels the strains of the Syrian situation as well. Throughout its history, the kingdom did steadily and carefully adjust to changing situations, constantly balancing pressure from bigger Arab countries and the West.
Though the kingdom gave Syrian opposition fighters training ground on limited scales, it did resist demands from Qatar and Saudi Arabia to heavily arm the Syrian opposition.
Once allies, now foes: Turkish PM Erdogan and Syrian President Assad. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 3
Assad does not need to negotiate
Questions arise why Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not want to negotiate with the opposition and is so adamant. Our reading is simple: Given the odds he was facing since two years, his stance did work relatively well for him, and now he does not have to negotiate anymore seriously, though he might send representatives to a future conference.
The strategic balance in Syria is shifting significantly to his side, and outside powers are becoming even more reluctant to hinder him go after his foes.
A deserted street in Tripoli during fighting between Alawites and Sunnites. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 2
Not happy with Hezbollah
People in Lebanon – many Shiites among them – are not content and even angry about Hezbollah´s role in Syria. But they can’t or don’t want to get rid of the organization for several reasons.
Many Shiites depend on Hezbollah, and the others just have no serious means to confront the organisation or are bound in political affiliations. Though, the latter may be in flux as some recent moves of Christian leader Michel Aoun suggest, who signed a Memorandung of Understanding with Hezbollah.
A Syrian army tank firing rounds in the battle for Qusayr. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 1
The battlefield situation in Qusayr, Syria, remains unclear. Some circumstantial conclusion can be drawn from news reports. The recent overall coverage of developments by pro-opposition media outside the country is very telling, just as reactions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) command.
Realities reloaded for the media
Since some weeks, pro-opposition media in Europe and the US are tuning down their war drums. Western commentators, who tried to push through an agenda of regime change and intervention for two years now, did fall relatively silent when it comes to analysis.