The Flames of Sectarian War in Iraq Lap at Syria
This blunt and dire assessment is from Joshua Landis of Syria Comment:
Iraq is exporting its sectarian war. In the crudest terms, America has lost its battle to create a constitutional Iraq, built on sectarian and ethnic deal-making and political agreement. What is going on now is that the US is empowering and arming ethnic militias - Kurds and Shiites - to overpower the Sunni population. That is what the battle at Tel Afar was all about. America is going to force Asad to hold down Sunnis in Syria, while America and its Iraqi allies rape Iraq's Sunnis across the border. This is going to upset Sunnis in Syria - and not just the extremist Sunnis. Others will get upset as well because they will see that Asad is supporting America and joining in its effort to hurt Sunni Arabs. They will be right.
Asad wants to keep out of this game, but he cannot. He will be forced to chose whose side he is on. He will choose to crack down on the tribes of eastern Syria who are smuggling and aiding the foreign fighters and Iraqi-Sunni resistance. He will have to restrict the free flow of Arabs into Syria and tighten the screws on anyone who helps them make their way to the border. He will be forced to hand over Iraqi Baathists, resident in Syria, who have friends here among Syrian Baathists. These are primarily Sunni Syrians. By cracking down, the regime will excite greater sectarian opposition and look more sectarian itself. This is just common sense. I am not trying to insult Sunnis and advocate sectarianism. But this is going to happen. The invasion of Iraq ignited a sectarian war there. It is being exported to the rest of the Middle East. That is why Sunni leaders are worrying about the "evil Shiite crescent." Bashar is being forced to enter into this war. His being an Alawite will make his actions seem sectarian when they are really about staying in power and giving in to Western superior power.
He does not want to do this. His domestic policy toward Sunnis has been to try to heal the wounds of Hama and mobilize Sunni help for his regime by pushing Sunni non-Baathists like Dardari up the ladder. All the same, he is going to be forced to take sides in what is turning out to be a very nasty sectarian battle in Iraq...