As Syrian President Bashar Assad accuses Israel of providing support to the forces opposing him, prospects for an end to regional tensions remain elusive and the various factions of the Syrian opposition themselves offer little hope for Middle East Peace, regardless of the outcome of this conflict. The Regime in Damascus faces an array of opponents who share few common interests. Whichever of these opponents prevail, regional stability remains uncertain.
According to an Associated Press report, two opposition groups have clashed in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. One of these groups, the Judicial Council, is itself a coalition of rebel groups which includes the Al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra. The Judicial Council recently accused Ghurabaa al-Sham – a jihadist group – of raiding factories in Aleppo, sparking a wave of skirmishes and kidnappings between the two.
This clash is merely the latest in a series of problems that have dogged the opposition to Assad’s regime. The fighting on the ground is being done by groups that are backed by various foreign powers, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Compounding the difficulties facing those who are trying to bring about a shift in power is the split between the paramilitary and political forces. The two main groups vying for power in a post-Assad Syria are the National Coalition – largely controlled by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood- and the newly-formed Union of Syrian Democrats. The latter of these two groups covers a broad political spectrum, although its members “are united on the principle of democracy”, according to one of them, Kamal Labwani, speaking to AFP. Neither the National Coalition nor the Union of Syrian Democrats appears to have much control over those jihadist and other forces battling the Syrian army. As a whole, there appears to be little hope for peace, either within Syria, or in the Middle East as a whole, should the Syrian opposition forces prevail.
Assad himself also enjoys the backing of foreign powers: Lebanon’s most powerful terrorist group, Hezbollah, has entered the fight to save the besieged Syrian leader. In addition, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has played a “physical and nonphysical” role in the conflict. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Iran’s involvement was revealed by Esmail Ghani, the Deputy Commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, during an interview with the Iranian ISNA news agency.
The United States has been unable to clearly define its own role in this conflict and the United Nations has fared no better. Russia is firmly on the side of the current Regime, as is Iran. There is little evidence that any internal or external force will bring Syria’s brutal revolution to an end any time soon. Equally; there is no clear indication – regardless of which side or faction within the Syrian opposition emerges as the new power – that the people of the Middle East will face a more stable and peaceful future.
Written By: Graham J Noble
Sources: Source 1, Jerusalem Post, Associated Press, al Arabiya