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From Saddam to Assad : Hot water of the Arab Sea

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09th-May-2018       
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M A Hossain :
Most possibly, the final episode of another important chapter of 'Middle East crisis solution formula' has already started. Bashar al Assad,sitting in his lavish palace in Damascus might not have been thought of the ultimate consequence of his getting into wrestle with the West. All though Syria had. refrained from attending the 29th Arab League Summit, it failed in getting sympathy from the members of the Arab League ;including Saudi Arabia.
Following West strike on Douma in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the West has the habit of attacking anyone on suspect, and investigate only after the attack ; to prove the attack was based on wrong information.
What ever argument Mr. Lavrov may have in defence of their long time ally - Bashar al Assad,this very statement of the Russian minister clearly proves - days of Russia might had been lost long back. Because in the global scenario, we are continuous seeing, the lone Super Power United States doesn't bother in either arguing or judging issue before they picked up weapons for any offensives. During the Cold War era, neither Moscow nor Washington had any obligation of arguing before they got themselves a party into any of the world affairs. But that was possible only for a Soviet Union - not a broken Russia. For Kremlin, they already have severe conflicts (even war) with few of its neighbours. For example, the Russian invasion in Ukraine in 2014 is no different than Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. During the entire era of Cold War, the most humiliating defeat of the mighty Soviet army were in Afghanistan. Actually this invasion had tremendously damaged the image of Kremlin.
Should Soviet Union never invent Afghanistan, most possibly there would be no Mujahidins or Taliban or Al-Qeeda or so on. As the entire world has been paying the cost of the rise of militancy from the entire Soviet war field in Afghanistan, we can easily assess several options the US and the West - would play initially in Syria and ultimately - in Ukraine, in Chechnya - and beyond.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein basically digged his grave by invading Kuwait. In fact Iraq gained nothing from it's Kuwait invasion. In my personal opinion, through Kuwait invasion, Saddam Hussein, the blue eyed darling of the West - especially the US turned into their worst enemy all most over night. We need to remember, a Sunni dominated Iraq actually did not want any war with a shia dominated Iran. But it was Iran's Ayatullah Ruhullah Khomeini who dreamt of expanding a shia 'imperialism' into Sunni lands; and he found Iraq as the first choice because Iraq is Iran's nearest neighbour.
Let us look into the socio- economic situation of Iraq and Iran right before the war. Saddam Hussein was a soldier, who dedicated himself in upbringing the socio economic status of Iraq  and its people ; while Iranian rulers like Reza Shah Pahlavi were severely greedy rulers - and Khomeini was a clergyman having no real knowledge of governance, economy, diplomacy or even defence. For decades where Iranian people were struggling due to autocratic monarchism and Khomeini's dictatorship; Iraqi were heading towards progress and prosperity at a very speedy pace. Where even an Iraqi from the lower income group could afford personal vehicles and even housemaids, Iranian in the same social status were battling in even managing their daily food. Khomeini, instead of copying the development policies of Saddam, started feeling envy of a prosperous Iraq and plotted a nasty game of indulging into hostilities with his Sunni neighbour. Due to consistent provocation of Tehran, Saddam Hussein had no options left in getting into military confrontation with the Khomeini regime. At this confrontation, while Saddam had all the support from the US and his Western allies, Khomeini had to seek Soviet cooperation. The result of Iraq - Iran war went totally against Tehran. Saddam taught befitting lesson to the 'shia radicals'. Although Khomeini got a strong slap on his face he didn't stop there. Instead, he started plotting another conspiracy against Iraq.
Few of the Saddam's top aides were secretly purchased by the Iranian intelligence agency who had given the wrong formula of an Iraqi imperialism in the Middle East into Saddam's mind. And of course humans are not above errors. Saddam did step into the trap of Khomeini and all on a sudden went into Kuwait invasion. All though he could not sustain, but this invasion turned Saddam totally isolated from the Westerns world and transformed him into an enemy of Washington.
Although Kuwait invasion didn't bring any good result for Saddam but it opened the doors and windows for the US and its allies in establishing their presence in the Middle East. What Afghanistan war could not do for the US and West ; the Kuwait invasion not only did serve the US- West purpose - but much beyond. In the name of protecting Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the Americans actually had very successfully placed those nations into its absolute grip.
Although, Kuwait invasion and the subsequent incident had led Saddam Hussein into absolute doom,Iran neither was a beneficiary nor it helped Tehran in improving its relations with the US. Here again, I want to put my opinion. In the Middle East, we are although seeing two players - the US and the European Union ; but actually the main player is US, while rest are mere weapon merchants. The leader in the Middle East issue certainly is President Donald Trump; while Theresa May of the UK, Angela Merkel of Germany, Emmanuel Macron of France - all are simply a micro factor.
We have to remember one part. In the Middle East although Iran is the main enemy of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh doesn't consider Lebanese Hezbollah (shia militia group) and any of the shia forces in Yemen or Syria as its brethren. To Saudi Arabia, even a country like Israel is a better choice than Iran or any of shia nations. Why? Because a Jewish Israel does not either aspire of capturing the KSA or ousting the ruling monarch from that country ; while Iran most definitely has the agenda of a Saudi invasion as well toppling dawn the Wahhabi monarchs from that country. In this agenda Iran enjoys open or silent support from the shia population in the Middle East.
The billion dollar question is - can Tehran really succeed in turning its daydream into a reality?  It could in fact, if Iran could create several strong allies in the Middle East. Let us remember - Iran is geographically in the Parisian Gulf - not exactly in the Middle East.
To establish its dominance over the Saudi Arabia, Iran had to actually transform shia nation like Syria and Lebanon into a strong nation. Both economically and militarily. It also needed to establish shia dominance in Yemen as well as in Iraq. Most definitely, Tehran was advancing towards achieving this goal. To strengthen Syria's defence and military sectors, Iran had brought North Korea into a very deep and warm relations with Damascus. Similarly there had been Iranians hand behind Bashar al Assad's growing relations with Moscow. Though this relations between Damascus, Moscow and Pyongyang, Tehran wanted to establish another shia nuclear nation in the Middle East. Unfortunately Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia might not have even sensed this nuclearization ambition of the shia nations. This is clearly an intelligence failure of the kingdom.
The Kuwait invasion resulted in Saddam demise. The Syria conflict will not only bring an end to Assad era but it actually will begin the process of a dramatic collapse of the Iranian regimes as well as similar fate to the shia factors in the Middle East. Above all, the fall of Assad will actually be the beginning episode of the fall of Moscow as well as fall of Tehran. Lets keep watching this interesting episode!      
My brief bio:

(M A Hossain, a political and defence analyst writes on diversified topics in Bangladeshi and foreign newspapers. He has served in the United Nations.)

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