Syria: Could the country break-up?

Deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameddin's defection to the Opposition might start a wider split.

The 58-year old deputy oil and minerals minister announced his resignation from the Ba'ath party and the government on YouTube, citing the brutality of the Assad regime as justification, according to the BBC. His departure, the first by a senior government figure, could trigger a flood of resignations from others disgusted by the clamp-down in Homs and other Syrian cities and the torture, rapes and murderous acts of the Syrian military. A civil war looms, as outside intervention is thwarted by the international community's inability to coalesce (after Russia and China vetoed UN-sanctioned action) and the Arab League's incapability to devise and implement a regional plan to halt spiraling violence.

Syria's very existence as a single sovereign state is under threat. According to expert diplomatic advice from the departed UK Ambassador, the existing Alawite minority government is doomed. The sizeable Christian community offers tacit support to Bashar al-Assad's regime, faced as they are by the prospect of its replacement by a hardline Muslim Brotherhood administration. In the North, the marginalised population of Kurds must be hoping for a national break-up so aspirations of a separate Kurdish state can be realised. In the South around the Golan Heights, the Druze have begun turning against Assad (veteran Lebanese Druze politician Walid Jumblatt already calling for the Syrian Opposition to be armed). Syria's very composition appears precarious.

In his ArabSaga blog, F. Najia quotes George Solage envisaging a three-way split in Syria - with the Shia Alawites retreating to their Mediterranean coastal heartland above Lebanon, the Kurds claiming a statelet close to the Turkish border and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood holding sway in the bulk lands in Syria's central, eastern and southern regions.

The Turks would baulk at such a Kurdish strategy as it would give impetus to the rise of a combined Kurdistan involving their own sizeable Kurdish community and the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. Ankara would also be concerned about the position of Turkey's own Alawite population, should an Alawite state re-emerge north of Beirut.

The Israelis and Americans, the Saudis and the Jordanians, would all be concerned at the existence of a Damascus dominated by an extremist Sunni regime dominated by Syria's hard-line version of the Brotherhood. And the ten percent of Syrians who follow Christianity would fear for their survival under such a government.

International action to offset a bloodbath appears impossible - it's US election year and the West is tired of global intervention. The Middle East, possibly the most volatile region on the planet, seems destined to descend into geopolitical mayhem. and this just as Iran's nuclear ambitions threatens to entice a violent and probably fruitless Israeli response.

In their quieter and more contemplative moments, members of the Turkish government might well be discussing how much calmer things were to their south when the Ottomans held sway. If there's nothing the Americans, Israelis, Saudis, Qataris or other interested parties can do to prevent Syria from falling into prolonged civil war, and the Turks are reluctant to be dragged into a Vietnam-style quagmire, a drawn-out battle for the redesigning of the map of Syria looks to be on the cards. 

Check out all articles here.

No comments:

Post a Comment