5. What do Christians think about all this?
The Christian West -- who used to love shopping for bargains in the Damascus souq -- should pay attention to how most Syrian Christians see the protests. They fear that Sunnis in power will crack down on minorities (not only themselves but also Druze and Alawites). They view the majority of Sunnis as "ignorant" and "backward" Islamic fanatics, without the slightest idea about democracy, human rights or a slow, negotiated path towards democracy.
This illiterate bunch, according to them, lives in the periphery, have no respect (or understanding) for life in the big city, support the violence caused by armed gangs, and want an Islamic state (by the way, essentially what the House of Saud wants for Syria.) Secular Sunnis for their part criticize Christians, stressing that most Sunnis are businessmen and entrepreneurs and sport liberal ideas -- and certainly don't want an Islamic state. It must be stressed that the opposition is trans-confessional -- it does include Christians and even Alawis.
6. What's the Western strategy on the ground?
Borzou Daragahi from the Financial Times has just confirmed that militias in Misrata, in Libya, announced the deaths of three Libyan de facto mercenaries in Syria. These Libyan Transitional National Council assets landed in Syria -- alongside weapons stolen from Gaddafi's warehouses -- courtesy of NATO cargo planes.
The FSA uses the ultra-porous Syrian-Turkish border at will. Turkey built several refugee camps; and Ankara hosts the leaders of both the SNC and FSA. There's also the Jordanian front -- the connection to the heavy Islamist (and backward) Daraa. But the Syrian-Jordanian border is infested with mines and heavily patrolled; that implies a long 200-kilometer detour in the middle of the desert.
Most of all FSA fighters go back and forth from Lebanon. The privileged smuggling route is from the northern Bekaa valley in Lebanon toward the opposition strongholds, the Sunni-majority cities of Homs and Hama. There's another route from the central Bekaa valley going south toward the suburbs of Damascus (that explains how both strongholds are being supplied). But the whole thing is very dangerous, because Syrian ally Hezbollah is very strong in the Bekaa valley.
Assad has promised -- once again this Tuesday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- there will be a new constitution and national elections by summer. Half-hearted or not, this is an attempt at reform.
Yet the usual, unnamed "government officials" have already leaked to CNN that the White House has asked the Pentagon to simulate game scenarios for a direct US military intervention in favor of the rebels. So a NATOGCC intervention bypassing the UN remains a solid possibility; a false-flag operation blamed on the Assad regime might be the perfect casus belli.
8. And what about the Syria-Iran connection?
Syria is crucial to Iran's sphere of influence in Southwest Asia/the eastern flank of the Arab nation. BRICS members Russia and China want to keep the status quo -- because it implies a regional balance of power that pins down American hegemony. For China, uninterrupted Iranian supplies of oil and gas are a matter of extreme national security. On top of it, if the US is tied up in the Middle East, so the much-touted Obama administration/Pentagon "pivot" towards Asia, and especially the South China Sea, will take much longer.
The bulk of Washington elites see regime change in Syria as a crucial way to hurt Iran. So this goes way beyond Syria. It's about shattering the Iranian regime, which is not a Western satrapy; energy flows from the Middle East to the West; the West's grip on the GCC and the intersection between the Arab and Persian worlds; and preserving the role of the petrodollar. Syria-Iran is a now a titanic match between NATOGCC and Russia/China -- to try to expel them from the Middle East.
The Pentagon's Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine is never more alive than when the jackals and hyenas of war are screaming and kicking.
Notes: 1. See here
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