Dimitris Rapidis

Latest reports claim that Assad’s forces are taking lead in the civil war in Syria. A complex situation that seems to have no end and the ceasefire seems to get even more distant. The United States are closely following the situation, Russia and China remain solid at their non-interfering stance, the Arab world is puzzled, but the fact is that tens of thousands have been migrated, whereas atrocities and casualties increase incessantly. Who can finally stop this?

The crisis in Syria has deeply affected the view of Iran in the Arab world. It might look like Iran does not care about the threats of the Westerns, but for the Arabs is not the case. Tehran has been trapped into the pivotal role Iran plays in the Arab world, and this means that as long as popularity over Iran is getting hurt, the appeal of Ahmadinejad narrows. Especially President Ahmadinejad enjoying for years the strong support of the Arab public opinion during and after the Lebanon war in 2006. A growing number of the people in the Arab world perceive Iran as the guardian of the Muslim world, a country with a leadership that opposes the imperialistic war of the United States in the region and stands against the compromise in the Arab-Israeli peace process supporting Hezbollah in its struggle against Israel.

This image has been deeply damaged, and the front counterpoint stems form the Kingdom of Jordan having received and being obliged to carry out thousands of Syrian refugees. Amman fears that civil war in Syria will spread out and edge its territory, especially when Hezbollah is so widely deployed in the axis of the region. The side-effects of the refugees is imminent in Jordan, but there is also an additional fear: that all these flows of Syrians might possibly get radicalized and seek for revenge against the Assad regime. This scenario would be catastrophic for Jordan as it would entangle the country into a regional upheaval and escalate the war in a wider level.

In this respect, the issue gets even more complicated after the involvement of Israel with the bombardment of the convoy allegedly carrying munition from the Syrian territory to Lebanon a couple of weeks ago. Nobody could foresee a direct Israeli involvement, but this counter-action proves that everyone is in peril and ready to affront efficiently any possible escalation.

The civil war in Syria has therefore many perspectives: the one stems from the country itself that needs to give an end to this massacre; the second stems from Iran which plays the role of the guardian of the Muslim world and exerts appeal and influence regionally; the third stems from Israel which would be more lenient to pre-emptive strikes in order to safeguard its sovereignty and prevent escalation.

To my point of view, the most imminent and influential role regarding the outcome of the civil war in Syria is the one exerted by Iran. And why is that? Because Iran seems to lose friends in the Arab world, but not its power. No Arab state is in position to threaten Iran and this is something Tehran knows it. In this respect, the shadow -military, religious, and political- Iran casts in the region is much bigger than the one in international level. If Iran decides to get even more radical in Syria, nobody would easily tackle it in practice. If Iran decides to get smoother, then the Syrian crisis might end up with some sort of compromise.

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