Syria's external relations
As the Syrian 'lion' rages and the regime's clampdown on opposition forces reaches alarming death-toll figures, the media is ridden with questions addressing the peculiar deadlock or impasse in this Arab Spring country. Since international players often seem to 'help' to determine the fate of Arab regimes, it may be prudent to examine who exactly is set to profit from this regime's seeming inevitable demise, or else retention of power should the Arab League's (already shaky) Peace Plan be implemented.
While a death toll that may have approached 100 just this weekend would beg a degree of humanitarian urgency, a glance at the strategy game being played out around the localised violence points to why this Arab Spring case may be dragging out, and may be different.
Why 'democracy' might get a chance in Syria
The playing field of trans-regional interests contains agents or actors set to gain, and others bound to lose from the overthrow of this Ba'athist regime. With a new world-split and the creation of two opposing trans-regional fronts over the Syrian crisis – the US and EU drivers of sanctions against the Ba’athist regime versus the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) that are against a Libya-style campaign in the country - it is no surprise that the Syria question literally hangs in the (transregional) balance. Hence of all Arab Uprisings that might not attain the aim of booting out a dictator, this one would be the one forecast to result in a cessation of violence and reforms, rather than an ouster or regime change.
Here is a look at the international vested interests at play, and the strategy considerations and alliances that are prolonging the Syrian conflict. What is a Syrian conflict, in this case, has the potential to be a much wider affair and fallout.
What implications, then, does a destabilized or even a new Assad-free Syria have for its neighbors?
What is at stake, for, say, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, the principal regional big guns in the Middle East?
We take a glance at the (trans)national interests of some countries, at the expense of others, as things escalate or de-escalate in Syria into a 'democratic' resolution.
Bashar Al Assad's popularity at home and abroad must not be underestimated, as we note that not a single key regime figure has detracted to the rebel opposition side. The regime of Syria does have supporters (unlike Libya so much for example) and and there are legitimate concerns for Syria’s minorities, in the case of a regime overthrow.
Iran dreads a hostile isolation
The potential collapse of the Assad regime would disturb not only the regional but also the trans-regional balance of power at the expense of Iran, leaving it virtually alone among an array of bitter arch-rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
All these competing interests of regional and extra-regional actors are relevant to how the situation unfolds in Syria. All hangs in the balance, while a solution resulting in a more stable region just now looks unlikely.
That's why people think still that this dictator might just survive.
In spite of an Arab League mission sent to observe Syria's implementation of a League peace plan, the level of violence has remained high with no sign of a let-up in the crackdown by Assad's forces. The Arab-grown solution to this Arab conflict, sadly, might not be enough.