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Syria: Foreign Policy

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Syria, International Relations, Politics, War & Conflict

This month's topic [1] on Creative Syria [2]‘s Blogger Forum was one that is guaranteed to cause storms of debate among the different bloggers.

The question read:

Syria's Foreign Policy
Which international and regional powers (Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Untied States, Russia, France) should Syria try to have good relations with. Should Syria be more involved or more hands off in its surrounding region's many conflicts.

We start with Wassim [3], who argues that Syria ought to stay the course [4] in its current foreign policy, especially when it comes to strengthening its ties with Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The death of Arabism and the realignment of many regional players on the side of Israel and the United States meant that a new appraisal had to be made and Syria has in fact made it. At this moment it has no need to be flexible on any issues since it (and Iran) remarkably still hold all the cards. However, rather than expect to rest on its success and hope to negotiate a better offer, Syria must intensify its efforts to roll back this influence, anything less could jeopardise all it has worked for.

Qunfuz, while agreeing in general terms with Wassim, brings out the notion that the current conflict is not in reality a sectarian one [5], in spite of the many attempts to depict it as such.

The current regional division is often misleadingly cast in sectarian terms, despite the Syrian regime’s secularism and Hamas being a Sunni organisation. It is much more useful to understand these opposing alliances in terms of those who welcome US-Zionist hegemony underpinned by American military bases, control of resources and the unfettered penetration of regional economies by Western capital, and those who refuse to submit. It is my opinion that Syria is on the right side in this.

Tarek Barakat, argues simply that it is a better relation with all of these countries [including Israel], that is the answer [6].

But Iran and to even a lesser extent Turkey, can offer Syria so much before the latter will need to move back to a multi-polar realm. Syria needs Saudi Arabia and the Americans way more than they need her because both can provide Damascus influence Iran cannot. And if the Syrians can’t win the American support due to conflicting strategic interest then at least they should avoid antagonizing them.

SimoHurtta, thinks that Syria's relations with its regional neighbors [7] is much more important than its relations with the EU and the US.

Syria should concentrate on finding the elements which unite the areas/nations and actively work for a tighter Middle East’s political and economical union. Only co-operation can save the area from decades long civil wars and the faith of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ehsani, feels that the Syrian regime has the mistaken view [8] that Americans will be leaving Iraq in the near future, a view that is jeopardizing their foreign policy and interests.

Failure to deal with this reality has cost the country dearly. Having resisted the American invasion while working tirelessly to sabotage any chances of it becoming a success, Damascus made itself a target in this White House. The first price to pay was in Lebanon. The old tacit approval of its total control of that country’s political process soon gave way to a sudden reversal of fortunes. The Hariri murder was the final catalyst. Syria soon found itself forced to undo a strategy that has been carefully put together by Hafez Assad over the past 30 years.