Syria, Iran and the Future of the Middle East – Professor Uzi Rabi, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, January 15, 2019
Syria, Iran and the Future of the Middle East
Professor Uzi Rabi
Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
15th January 2019
Syria has become a microcosm of what I would call the post Arab Spring Middle East. We should look at it as kind of a reflection to the situation of the Middle East, and Arab state Syria is being controlled by those Russians, and Iranians to some extent, and Turkey, and Israel are also has kind of an interest in the post Arab Spring situation in Syria.
All of them Russia, Turkey, Iran and as well as Israel, are non-Arab players which says a lot about the, I would say, civilization of the decline of the Arabs. Iran has been very consistent in its bid for hegemony in the Middle East. Already in 1982 it actually installed himself by Hezbollah in Lebanon in the post 2003 period after the downfall of Saddam Hussein it managed to actually infiltrate into Iraq, and the Iranians in both places Lebanon and Iraq did it not only by she militias that served as boots on the ground for them they also actually had penetrated via what I would call soft penetration which means indoctrination schools a lot of money which is going to welfare and indoctrination and of course industry life industry and some grips over the economy in the region.
While looking at the map of the Middle East the missing link is Syria. Syria is sort of a bridgehead between Lebanon and Iraq, and it goes about saying that presence of Iran in Syria would serve the goal of having a corridor between the Persian Gulf and the eastern flank of the Mediterranean. This has become something of real concern to all Arab States, some of them actually depicted that kind of a corridor as the Shiite Crescent this is the Shiite axis which is being stretched from as I said before from the Persian Gulf today eastern flank of the Mediterranean so Syria is definitely a very crucial link in Iran’s bid for hegemony let alone that the Iranians have inserted a lot of effort in rescuing Bashar al-Assad, saving him, together with the Russians, and the Iranians do feel that it is high time for them to have this whole thing much profitable in installing themselves in Syria.
Now of course that the mechanism is very complex because there are many hands in Syria but while looking at the recent events in the Middle East, especially the American withdrawal from Syria, this is sort of a green light for Iran to start dealing with their profits in kind of a more practical way this is one thing that is the concern of many Arab states and it has to do with the post Arab Spring Syria but at the same time there is the angel of Israel and Israel actually having learned a bitter lesson from what happened in Lebanon after the evacuation of itself in May 2000.
Israel is determined not to allow Iran to turn south Syria into kind of a second south Lebanon which is definitely something which is in the cards when it comes to Iran. So there is a kind of an ongoing interaction or a dialogue between Israel and Russia as to how to prevent Iran from doing that, and if we take into account that Israel actually go or went to the open with its attacks on Iran in Syria and made it kind of a public or made it kind of a known thing it is to say that Iran and Israel are at a collision course and we’ll have to wait and see how the Russians are going actually to handle this thing. It is of course another thing that we should just mention that both Israel and some Arab states do not count any more on what they call the West or outside powers and it goes about saying that they should just collaborate in order to minimize the danger which had been posed against them by Iran so the flipside of that would be kind of a growing collaboration between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and mainly Saudi Arabia and some Gulf iam states but this is a part and parcel of the new geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East.
As to the Mediterranean I think that this is a very very crucial development especially as the Russians do control the eastern bank of the Mediterranean it remains to be seen as to how and whether Russia could be a part and parcel of an ongoing communication line all over the many terror lanes, but as I said before it is too premature to evaluate that. In any case Syria has become kind of an arena by which to definitely reflect Iran’s bid for hegemony in this region and this bid for hegemony served to change the whole geopolitical chessboard as I said before and created sort of a collaboration or an alliance even an ad-hoc alliance between Israel and some Arab states