It is natural that the region and the countries of the region are affected by the rapid developments and conflicts of power in Syria. Vulnerable states to the implications of the conflict in Syria are all the countries in the vicinity of the crisis, including Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as the Gulf States and Iran. The Iranians have opened the Yemeni front against Saudi Arabia in order to fold it out of the conflict in Syria and facilitate their victory there. We must admit that they have succeeded so far.
And the case of Yemen, apart from being an outcome of the sharp regional conflict, confirms that allowing Iran to take over Syria, Lebanon and Iraq will not end at the borders of these countries. Iran’s control over Lebanon enabled it to seize Syria by using Hezbollah, which it had built to be its regional power. Tehran also used some Lebanese institutions to support its operations in Syria and used Lebanon to support its agents in Yemen — the Houthis.
The conflict in Syria is still open to all possibilities. Either the recent clashes play a positive role in pushing the main parties to agree on solutions to avoid direct wars and reduce their losses, or they have negative effects by escalating the conflict, which is more likely. The US defense secretary stressed that the aim of the American presence in Syria is to confront Daesh; however, that task may necessitate engaging the Iranian and Syrian forces, which used organizations such as Daesh to justify their military activities against civilians and cooperated with them against the Syrian rebels.
The expansion of the conflict threatens Khamenei’s regime in Tehran because it will expend more blood and money and suffer more defeats.
In my view, when the five-dimensional conflict involving Russia, the US, Iran, Turkey and Israel fails, the most endangered country is going to be Iraq, as it is still recovering from its many battles with Daesh and Kurdish separatists, and because of the increase in problems with the sectarian Shiite and Sunni forces and with the Popular Mobilization Forces, which is still a time bomb threatening the central authority.
Turkey will also be more vulnerable if it decides to fight the allies of the Syrian regime or insists on pursuing the Kurds, the allies of the US. Israel is in the eye of the storm, but it has enough muscle and alliances to make it less vulnerable to threats, even though it suffered a hit when one of its military jets was downed after the Iranians had violated its airspace.
And we cannot talk about the rebounds of the conflict in Syria without noting that Iran itself is exposed to danger. It looks like a glass house after the demonstrations that took place in dozens of Iranian cities, during which the protesters called for leaving Syria and stopping financial and military support for the regime’s allies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Therefore, the expansion of the war in Syria threatens Khamenei’s regime in Tehran because it will expend more blood and money and suffer more defeats.
The Iraqi war of the last decade has shown that the entire region is vulnerable to conflict and divisions, even if it seems governed by clear rules of engagement. There are no guarantees of the security and stability of those in the vicinity of war unless they understand that security is collective, and unless they stop greedy expansionist political adventures.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.