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.
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.
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.