Friday, December 02, 2011

Strike on Iran by toppling Bashar-Al-Assad

Problem: As U.S. troops are in the process of withdrawing from Iraq by the end of 2011, there is a serious concern in Washington regarding the growing influence of Iran in Baghdad. Some analysts have even attributed the failure of talks between Baghdad and Washington regarding U.S. military presence in the country after 2011 to Iran. Moreover, Iran is trying to take advantage of the Arab Spring, which has provided Tehran with an opportunity to reset its relations with the newly established regimes in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. There is a growing concern among western strategists of the high possibility of Islamist governance coming to power in these countries; indeed, Tunisia has already brought to power such a ruling elite. Hence, with such regimes coming to power and with Tehran emphasizing that this is a continuation of their Islamic revolutions, these newly established regimes may be more receptive of Tehran than their predecessors. Thus, the balance of power in the Middle East may change, leading to the rise of a powerful Iran that could undermine U.S. national interests in the region.

The minority Alawite sect has dominated the Syrian Government since the 1970s. The Alawites are a heterodox Muslim sect, an offshoot of the Shia branch of Islam, and make up about 7 percent of the population, which is primarily Sunni. For years now, the Iranian Islamist regime gave the Syrian secular regime protection from the Shiite fundamentalists in Lebanon. The Iranians also supported Syria in its external adventures in Lebanon, and more importantly, in its suppression of Syria’s Sunni majority. Iran and Syria therefore entered into a long-term if not altogether stable alliance that has lasted to this day. With the U.S. and other Western countries opposing Bashar al-Assad in the current Syrian unrest, Iran is the only country that still wants Bashar al-Assad to remain in power, because its influence on al-Assad will increase if he maintains power with Tehran’s support. A surviving Syrian government, beholden to Iran, will lose its equal stature with Iran and will be more receptive of Iranian authority and influence. If this should happen, Iran will have an important victory against Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Arab League and the U.S. This will be a dangerous outcomes, which will be a serious blow to U.S. and its allies interests in the region.

Solution: Topple Bashar al-Assad: Those frightened with such an outcome described above, in particular the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, must counter any growth of Iran’s influence in the region. However, this countering will not happen in Iraq where Iran already has an upper hand; not with sanctions, to which Iran has adapted; not with terrorist allegations, which no one would believe; not with an IAEA report, which would discredit IAEA rather than Iran; and not with threatening to attack Iranian nuclear sites, which no one dares to risk. Instead, I suggest employing every possible means that the U.S. and its allies can employ in the region to bring down the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad.

At this moment the U.S. has only three choices related to tackling Iranian influence. First, accept the evolution of Iranian influence and try to live with it. Second, attempt to make a deal with Iran, which is dependent on if Iran wants to deal or not as well as requiring compromise by the U.S. Third, go to war with Iran either directly or through Israel, which depends on having enough power to wage a war and to absorb Iran’s retaliatory strikes in the region. All of these options are costly and unacceptable to Washington. Hence what I propose is to strike Iran obliquely, by toppling Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Such an action would be a critical move to contain Iranian influence in the region; it would change the game and place momentum in the regional politics in favor of the U.S. and its allies against Iran.

Means: Support the Free Syrian Army: With U.S. and its allies hesitent of military intervention in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, consisting of Sunni defectors from the Syrian Army, is already on the ground, battling to protect the civilians against the oppression of the Syrian regime and attacking several strategic government compounds. They have been widely supported among Sunni majority of Syria, with opposition leaders and sunni businessmen providing arms and munitions to their increasingly growing Free Syrian Army. There is a unique opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to equip the Free Syrian Army with weapons and munitions that will ensure they have the ability to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This armed assistance could be channeled covertly through Turkey and Jordan, which will definitely empower the Free Syrian Army and would enable them to topple the minority supported regime of Assad. While mounting a secret campaign to topple the regime would be challenging for the U.S. and its allies, it seems that it is the best option they have in order to bring down Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and strike at Iran’s growing influence in the region.

Result: Hence, supporting Free Syrian Army beside other means such as sanctions by U.S., Turkey, EU and Arab League employed against Bashar-al-Assad’s regime must be coordinated in a fashion that could lead to toppling of Assad’s regime which would surely be a major blow to Iranian influence not only in Syria but even in Labenon. With Syrian opposition leaders already discussing about an ultimate change in Iranian-Syrian and Labenon-Syrian relationship once in power, it means toppling of Assad's Regime could result in restoring balancing power in Middle East in favor of U.S. and its regional allies against growing Iranian influence in the region.

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