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What's going on in Syria?
mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | opinion / analysis Thursday September 05, 2013 18:17 by Monte - FdCA
The difficulty in understanding the current geopolitical situation often depends on the interpretative framework that is used to decipher events. I believe that the world-systems theory that defines the current crisis in the hegemony of the centre - the USA - is the one which more than any other is able to explain the complexity of the redefinition of the relationships of power and balances, the redefinition of alliances and new strategic areas. [Italiano
What's going on in Syria?
The difficulty in understanding the current geopolitical situation often depends on the interpretative framework that is used to decipher events. I believe that the world-systems theory (Wallerstein, Arrighi) that defines the current crisis in the hegemony of the centre - the USA, a country that historically created the structure of the world market and the relation of inter-State power that has been woven since 1945 - is the one which more than any other is able to explain the complexity of the redefinition of the relationships of power and balances, the redefinition of alliances and new strategic areas.
Europe and the Mediterranean have become zones of mere support as Russia has inserted itself as a producer of raw materials into world trade and enjoys the role of a military and atomic power limited to its geographic area, while the areas of future turbulence are in sub-Saharan Africa, as far as the potential for raw matrerials is concerned, and the Pacific area around the emerging economic power that is China and its needs for growth as a geopolitical power.
Taking on the role of an imperialist power is not cheap and given the USA's fair-sized public debt (which, by the way, is similar to that of the Second World War, as a percentage of GDP), it is trying to involve and delegate the role of active, operative vassals to regional nations. This function in the area of the Middle East is currently carried out by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. After the coup d'état in Egypt and the destitution of Morsi, Saudi Arabia is the one that is hegemonizing the area, downscaling its "competitors" thanks to its many-sided strategy of blocking any inclinations towards democracy in which the masses participate, thus guaranteeing the stability that in their culture is feudal/castal, without rights and therefore contrary even to the Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood, which (badly) integrates religion and democracy. Indeed they were active in the harsh repression in Bahrain, in the opposition movements in Yemen who mingle with the mostly Shi'ite population. The emir of Qatar has abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Tamim, in admittance of the defeat of his idea for an open Islam, the sort promoted by the Brotherhood, who they support. And Turkey too, after the mobilizations of the last weeks, is in economic difficulty thanks to the flight of foreign investment funds, growing inflation and depreciation of the lira, something similar to what is happening in India and Indonesia (the next "perfect storm"?).
Since July 2012, the head of the Saudi secret services (and secretary of the National Security Council) has been a prince, Bandar bin Sultan, a strongman with a precise strategy of strengthening Saudi Arabia and carrying out an active counter-revolution by using religious differences in order to generate an explicit civil war against the Shi'ites, a new front on which to mobilize the Sunni masses, thus counteracting the "Arab Springs". The Califate against democracy! Bandar has excellent relations with the West: an ambassador to the USA for 22 years, close friends with Bush Sr. and considerable arms trade relations with Thatcher. It is said that he was behind the recent car bombs in Iraq and Lebanon. In Syria he supports Jabhat al-Nusra with arms (Croatia has increased its arms exports by 50%) and billions of dollars: this group is linked to al-Qaeda and is made up of thousands of foreign mercenaries, fighters from many war fronts, and is thus extremely operative. It has been the main catalyst over the past year. In "Il Manifesto" of 30 August 2013, M. Giorgi calls them "al-Qaeda 2" - movementist, horizontal, against the Kurds, the Alawites and secular nationalism, supporters of the Califate from Damascus to Iraq, less hostile to the USA and the West. One leader, Shaker Wahiyib al-Fahdawi, boasts of the fact that he does not mask his face and that he kills any Shi'ite that crosses his path.
By now the clash in Syria is one between religions, also because the Free Syrian Army, made up of ex-military personnel, is extremely weak despite being trained by the Americans in Jordan. Made it is for this reason that after his meeting with the Syrian "democrats" Hollande seemed a little less keen on bombing. The various armed groups have only light weapons and a few tanks salvaged during combat, but with no possibility of providing maintenance.
Assad's army enjoys the support of a fairly well-equipped air force, a large number of land-to-air and land-to-sea missiles, albeit not of the latest generation, armoured vehicles and with the help of the Iranian military and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, they can stand up to the contenders in the redefinition of the zones of influence.
The intervention of American ships and missiles would seem to be a form of "relief", i.e. counteraction, in order to destroy predominant military positions. But three days and around 150 cruise (Tomahawk) missiles - at $1,500,000 each - has only a temporary effect. The desired destructuring effect could only come after weeks and weeks. Thus, seeing that no-one believes in humanitarian wars, not even the Labour Party in Britain, the true motive would seem to be the cooperation that is needed and has been requested (by the Saudis) in order to limit Assad's superiority. One thing is certain - seeing the USA helping out al-Qaeda is paradoxical.
Bandar recently met Putin to whom he proposed contracts for $15 billion's worth of arms in order to isolate Assad, plus other goodies, including control over the Chechens at the upcoming Games in Russia. Journalistic (sic!) versions of the meeting have it on the one hand that they came to an agreement, or on the other hand that Putin blew his top and promised to bombard the Saudi capital.