By Ghaidaa Hetou
The Syrian Conflict
The Role of Russia, Iran and the US in a Global Crisis
Reviewed by Stanly JohnyWhy so many countries are involved in Syria's war…
When protests in Syria against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad that broke out in March 2011 turned into a full-scale civil war, many nations, especially those in the West, thought Assad's dates were numbered. The U.S. called for his resignation. The EU backed rebels and housed the political branch of the Syrian opposition. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan were involved in varying degrees in the conflict through their proxies. But almost eight years on, Assad has not only survived, but almost won the most disastrous civil conflict in post-war West Asia. This wouldn't have been possible without help from Iran, Russia and the Hezbollah, Syria's strongest allies. Ghaidaa Hetou, an academic and the founder of iStrategic LlC, a U.S.-based political risk analysis firm, tells this story in The Syrian Conflict: The Role of Russia, Iran and the US in a Global Crisis.
Much has already been written on the Syrian crisis. But this literature is largely focused on Syria's internal dynamics explaining the causes of the conflict. But Hetou sees the Syrian conflict through the geopolitical prism. She doesn't dispute the arguments that the initial response of the Assad regime towards peaceful protesters was brutal. But she also says the Syrian government had taken some reform measures in 2012, including passing a new Constitution, "which was by many accounts a fundamental step towards political reform". The new Constitution abolished a fundamental Article that had practically guaranteed the one-party rule of Assad's Baath Party. But this measure failed to end violence. Nor did foreign countries who backed rebels accept this as a measure of reconciliation. As the war went on, first Iran, then Hezbollah and finally Russia came for the regime.
For Iran, the survival of the Assad regime was vital for its own interests. "The diplomatic amalgam of the Syrian opposition and the international recognition that they received, as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people by the U.S., EU and GCC was further proof, from Iran's perspective, that this was indeed a Western manufactured crisis." As for Russia, by interfering in Syria, it sent a message to Western powers about its foreign policy resolve.
While Hetou convincingly lays out this geopolitical narrative, the book lacks a moral argument given that at least 400,000 people were killed in Syria and millions were displaced. In places it also reads like a compilation of news reports as the author is rebuilding developments drily and chronologically since the outbreak of the crisis. Still the perspective it offers distinguishes it from other books on Syria.
Courtesy: The Hindu