Washington’s plan for a New Middle East has hit a rock called Syria. After the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the destruction of Libya, Syria was to be the next domino overthrown by a ‘colour revolution’, led by Islamists and backed by the big powers.
After ‘regime change’ in Damascus the next most powerful enemy of Israel, Hezbollah, leader of the Resistance in Lebanon, would be isolated and the Islamic Republic of Iran would remain the only Middle East country without US military bases. After Iran, the empire would control the entire region, excluding possible competitors such as Russia and China. Palestine would be lost.
But it was not to be. Coordinated resistance can never be discounted. Not only has Syria’s national army resisted wave after wave of fanatical Islamist attacks, Russian and Iranian backing has been solid. And new forms of cooperation with Iraq have emerged. Washington has worked for decades to divide Iran and Iraq, so the strengthening ties between Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine represent a threat to the new ‘Great Game’ of our times.
The US and its close regional collaborators (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel), we now know, have been behind every anti-Syrian extremist group since the beginning of the recent conflict. They have used the worst of reactionary and sectarian forces to further their ends. The Axis of Resistance, on the other hand, should not be misunderstood as a sectarian phenomenon. It is deeply anti-imperialist. Syria, the only remaining ‘secular’ (in Middle Eastern terms, pluralist) state in the region long allied itself with the Islamic Republic of Iran, including against Saddam Hussein’s secular Iraq. Saddam in turn was used byWashingtonto degradeIran, after that country’s 1979 revolution. On the other hand, Iran never backed the sectarian Muslim Brotherhood in any of its insurrections against Syria. Iran does support its fellow Shia Muslims of Hezbollah, but is most demonised for arming Palestine, which has hardly any Shia. Promotion of sectarianism in the Middle East has mostly come from Washington’s key allies, Saudi Arabia, the other gulf monarchies, and the ethnic cleansers of Israel. They share the aim of keeping the region weak and divided.