Syria crisis: The teetering balance of power has whole region on edge

Israel’s position is firmly based on its own self-interests

Share
Related Topics

Every country in the Middle East is reacting in its own egocentric way to the prospect of the US launching a military strike against Syria. For all their proclaimed concern for the human cost of the crisis, Syria’s neighbours worry most about the effect of US actions on the regional balance of power and its impact on long-standing conflicts and confrontations such as those between Israel and its opponents, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Sunni Muslims against Shia and the US against Russia.

Israel’s position is firmly based on its own self-interests: It wants a US-led strike strong enough to weaken President Bashar al-Assad and his armed forces making it impossible for him to win the civil war in the long term. But Israel appears not to favour air attacks so powerful that they cripple the Syrian government military machine and hand victory to a militant Sunni opposition movement with links to al-Qa’ida.

Israel is now declaring publicly what many in the Middle East have suspected has been the real policy of the US and its allies. This is to see a continuing conflict in which the two sides wear each other down as a better outcome than the decisive victory of either. “This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at last you don’t want one to win,” said Alon Pinas, a former Israeli consul general in New York, to The New York Times. “Let them both bleed, haemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

The Israeli view is of peculiar importance in determining US military action, if it occurs, because President Obama is looking to pro-Israel lobby groups for support in lobbying Congress in favour of military action. Israel does not want the US and its allies to ease off Iran over its nuclear programme in order to win Iranian co-operation in Syria.

Russia wants Iran to attend a peace conference in Geneva, which the US and Russia have planned since May, since it is a major player in Syria. Iran is adamantly opposed to US intervention and it is possible but unlikely that Iran, Syria or Hezbollah, will retaliate against the US or Israel in the event of a strike.

The Iranians have hitherto fully backed Syria, seeing the war as being aimed at depriving them of a crucial political and military ally. Hezbollah likewise sent its forces to fight just across the Syrian border in Qusayr, but does not appear to want a deeper commitment.

Turkey is Syria’s neighbour most directly involved in the war since rebel units and military supplies have been allowed to cross freely into Syria. The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called for an all-out US attack aimed at overthrowing Mr Assad and his government. But this policy is unpopular among Turks and Mr Erdogan is paying a mounting political price for his unstinting support for the Syrian rebels. 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Administrator - Chinese Speaking

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly growing company is...

Recruitment Genius: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Recruitment Genius: Service Desk Co-ordinator / Client Services Administrator

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The era of graduates from the university conveyor belt is over

Hamish McRae
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks