A new ‘great game’ in Syria? – Alastair Crooke in the Guardian

Alastair Crooke

Writing in the Guardian, Alastair Crooke, author of Resistance: the Essence of the Islamist Revolution, argues that parts of the pro-democracy movement in Syria are being exploited by external forces. He points out the interest which various governments have in seeing the Assad regime fall:

This summer a senior Saudi official told John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, that from the outset of the upheaval in Syria, the king has believed that regime change would be highly beneficial to Saudi interests: “The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.”

This is today’s “great game” – losing Syria. And this is how it is played: set up a hurried transitional council as sole representative of the Syrian people, irrespective of whether it has any real legs inside Syria; feed in armed insurgents from neighbouring states; impose sanctions that will hurt the middle classes; mount a media campaign to denigrate any Syrian efforts at reform; try to instigate divisions within the army and the elite; and ultimately President Assad will fall – so its initiators insist.

Europeans, Americans and certain Gulf states may see the Syria “game” as the logical successor to the supposedly successful Libya game in moulding the Arab awakening towards a western cultural paradigm. In terms of regional politics however, Syria is strategically more valuable, and Iran knows this. Iran has said that it will respond to any external intervention in Syria.

It is already no “game”, as the many killed by both sides attests to. The radical armed elements being used in Syria as auxiliaries to depose Assad run counter to the prospect of any outcome emerging within the western paradigm. These groups may well have a bloody and very undemocratic agenda of their own. I warned of this danger in connection to Afghanistan in the 80s: some of the Afghan mujahideen had real roots in the community, I suggested, but others posed a severe danger to people. A kindly American politician at the time placed his arm around my shoulder and told me not to worry: these were the people “kicking Soviet ass”. We chose to look the other way because kicking the Soviets played well to US domestic needs. Today Europe looks the other way, refusing to consider who Syria’s combat-experienced insurgents taking such a toll of Syrian security forces truly are, because losing Assad and confronting Iran plays so well, particularly at a time of domestic difficulty.

Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.


The Essence of the Islamist Revolution

Alastair Crooke

A compelling account of the origins of the Islamist Revolution and the ideas and energy mobilising the Islamic world.

“Crooke’s mission in this erudite, and most readable, book is to
reassure the White Folks in George Bush’s America (and elsewhere in
the world) that Hamas, Hezbollah and the seemingly menacing Islamic
governments in Iran and elsewhere are not the enemies of the West.
His mission is to educate us about the history and philosophy of the
Islamic world, and its various factions.”
– Seymour M. Hersh, the New Yorker magazin

“This book is required reading at a time when alternative perspectives on the causes of global terrorism and new Western diplomatic initiatives urgently need to replace the failed policies of the Bush administration-led ‘War on Global Terrorism'” – John Esposito, University Professor, Georgetown University

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

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