1. You seem to me to be running a bit behind re Syria. Nothing on what looks like an Assad offensive simultaneously in Aleppo and Homs today; nothing on the talk from Clinton and others that the time has come for the US to intervene, and whether anything is going to happen in time ..

  2. Syria Has Used Chemical Arms on Rebels, U.S. and Allies Find http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/world/middleeast/white-house-pushes-back-on-bill-clintons-syria-remarks.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp

    “American and European intelligence analysts now believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in the civil war in Syria, an assessment that will put added pressure on a deeply divided Obama administration to develop a response to a provocation that the president himself has declared a “red line.””

    • I believe the US intelligence analysts were quite convinced of this all along, and it’s only because the Obama admin feels it has to offer a better response to the crisis after the fall of Qusayr that this red line is finally being “used”.

    • This article is confusing. It correctly identifies that states tend to conduct foreign policy in accordance with their national interests, in turn suggesting that Iran’s Syria policy is geopolitically, not ideologically, driven.

      However, it then claims that an Iranian victory in Syria would be “pyrrhic” because Iran has lost popular support in the region. It lists Hamas as an example.

      By doing all this, the article implies that popular support is a geopolitical national interest.

      Clearly this logic is flawed. The proof being that post-revolution Iran never had popular support in the region to begin with, and it has only ever been able to count on Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon as its allies, with Iraq coming along later thanks to you guys.

      Long before the Syria crisis, almost the entire region supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran, with the Persian Gulf Arab states bankrolling Saddam with tens of billions of dollars. More recently, the same states were calling on the US to “cut off the head of the snake” by encouraging it to attack Iran. Meanwhile, Egypt is still dithering over whether to lift a post-revolution blanket embargo on Iran.

      The only popularity Iran had over the years came from the “Arab street”, whose support for Iran at best ebbed and flowed. The problem for Iran: the sentiment remained confined to the streets, and never infiltrated the corridors of power.

      As far as Iran is concerned, if its biggest loss during the Syria crisis is popular support in the form of Hamas and the Arab street, then it can count itself very lucky, because it took a huge gamble by mobilising so extensively. Despite working from the off to overthrow Assad, Iran made a bet that the Persian Gulf Arab states would do no more than throw money at the opposition – a policy they have always preferred. The calculation being that, unlike Saddam’s organised army, the Syrian opposition would be too fragmented and chaotic to sustain a prolonged front against Assad. Iran also bet on Russia covering the diplomatic flank, which Russia has done so abidingly, and it hoped to catch the US mid-pivot and unwilling to re-engage the region.

      However, for Iran to make these judgements – and risk its own stability for a geopolitical problem that is ultimately, though regrettably, disposable – is extremely bold, if not reckless. Only time will tell whether it was worth it.

  3. Egypt says citizens free to join fight in Syria

    I’ve made no secret about the fact I hope the rebels win, but this is getting out of control. I’m starting to become very alarmed by certain trends in the region. This is good for nobody and it needs to be stopped immediately before things deteriorate further. It’s already devolving into a nasty sectarian war with massacres committed by both sides on civilians who come from a different sect. The full scope of this war will make Iraq’s sectarian fighting at the height of the war look like child’s play. Nobody is going to truly win this war because no matter who wins it will be Syrian civilians who pay the price. There is no happy outcome.

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