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Τρίτη, 16 Φεβρουαρίου 2016



Nicos Topouzis

In the field of International Relations, ideologies give birth to Myths. Myths, the wrong perception of reality, in their turn give birth to fallacies. Fallacies are meant to divert public opinion from reality, manipulating national policies towards an important matter of the global scene. Therefore ideologies are used by world leaders to blind their voters and use each countries resources to any desired (by leaders) way.

Let’s examine the Syrian War. Since the creation of the “Free Syrian Army (FSA)” in 29th July 2011 by defected high ranking officers of the Syrian army, and the rapid escalation of country’s conflict, many European politicians and NGOs cried out for the removal of President Assad. All these “leaders” hoped and tried really hard for the success of the “Arab Spring” in Syria. They used mainly leftist ideology (fallacy of a fight to equal rights, social class equality and democracy) to sway European public opinion into allowing them overthrowing Assad while at the same time there would be an aligning with Gulf monarchies and Turkey. Let me be clear on how I feel about President Assad though: he is not the kindest person ever lived, I would never recommend him for a Nobel Peace prize. I only consider him as being the best among all bad choices for MidEast and EastMed.

To European leaders’ and NGO’s disappointment, President Assad lasted more than mr.Mumbarak and mr.Qaddafi. His stamina sparked further involvement of Arabs and Turks in the country. Radical Muslim factions took advantage of Gulf countries funding and Turkish training and support to organize horrible terrorism organizations like Al-Nusra and DAESH. The latter’s especially brutal violence (public beheadings) and aspirations of forming a Caliphate (ISIS), turned western public opinion against the planned forced removal of the Damascus Baathist regime. Too many citizens of the western world nowadays see President Assad as a hero who protected his motherland and welcomed Russian massive intervention in Syria.

How about realism? Realism is the absence of ideologies. The point of view that false perceptions do not cloud our judgment. What really happened in Syria? Why is the country ruined? The answer is quite complicated yet easy to comprehend. Regional competition. Too many competing forces in the Middle East since Syria is the passage way to both Europe and the Mediterranean.

In Syria we primarily meet the ancient competition between Sunni and Shia Islam. But religion is often only the pretext. The entire MidEast have been a battlefield of the Saudi-Iran proxy war with countless victims. Yemen is the latter victim of that conflict. Iran/Shia expansionism exploited power vacuum in Iraq after the fall of Baathist cruel dictator Saddam Hussein. Iranian power figure Qassem Suleimani became the de facto ruler of Iraq, a development that deeply worried Gulf monarchies, Turkey and the West. Saudi Arabia, as leading power of the Arabian Peninsula, along with Turkey, could not tolerate a Shia control of a potential ge- corridor via Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon. They had to intercept/break Iranian access to the Mediterranean, so “Arab Spring” was a great opportunity to overthrow Iran’s loyal ally, Bashar Al-Assad.

Let us examine Qatar stance on the Syrian dispute since it claimed leadership of the “Syrian opposition”, losing narrowly that position by the Saudis http://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-saudi-insight-idUSBRE94U0ZV20130531 . Why was Qatar so interested in leading the effort to overthrow Assad? Why Doha desired to put Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of that war?

The answer to that question lies on the swallow waters of the Persian Gulf and is called South Pars/North Dome Gas Field, the largest Natural Gas field on the planet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pars_/_North_Dome_Gas-Condensate_field . South Pars is located between Qatar and Iran, where sea depth is only 65m and it’s located only 3000m beneath seabed. A true treasure even for the rich countries of the Middle East.

Since the early 2000’s, Europe was particularly interested importing natural gas from Iran, especially from the South Pars field. A pipeline crossing Turkey was designed (Persian or Pars pipeline), but that plan was destined to fail due to international sanctions enforced against Iran because of its incompliance with UN nuclear energy inspectors. That pipeline was “a competitor” to Nabucco pipeline (Azerbaijan to Europe), even though Iranians had no objections in coupling those pipelines inside Turkish soil.

Iran’s next plan, to exploit the multi-billion worth South Pars field, was to strike a deal with Iraq and Syria. Iraq was a buffer state and Syria a loyal ally. A $6 billion deal to construct the pipeline was signed in July 2011 which was called “Friendship pipeline”. That pipeline would be highly competitive to Nabucco, and would significantly undermine geostrategic power of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. That plan had to fail and President Assad was an ideal target.

Note that both “Friendship Pipeline” deal and birth of Free Syrian Army took place in July 2011!
Let us examine Qatar further here. In 2009, Doha proposed a natural gas pipeline from the same field extending all the way to Turkey, were it would be connected to Nabucco, bypassing Russia and minimizing Europe’s energy dependence on the will of President Putin.

http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/qatar-seeks-gas-pipeline-to-turkey#page1 . This proposed route tried to exploit international sanctions against Iran, in favor of Qatar. If this deal would be successful, it could have shifted power balance, in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. Doha would become the primary EU energy provider. Iran and Saudi Arabia would suffer a major geopolitical setback. Iranian influence on President Assad though, was a definite obstacle not allowing this pipeline to be constructed. Alternate route at Iraq was blocked as well, since Iraq is considered an Iranian buffer state.

Connecting the dots… It is easy to understand that among the reasons of the Syrian tragedy, is the plan for building natural gas routes from the South Pars/North Dome Field, the richest field of the planet. Had international community not being blinded by cheap ideologies, maybe the outcome would be different for the Syrian people. But all ideologies have failed in Syria. Pure logic and reasoning should be the sole factors of our thinking process. In the latter days we see Turkey acting as world’s largest slave trader, using Syrian refugees (even drowning families in the Aegean) to lure NATO into its doomed involvement in Syria, its own “Sicilian Expedition”. A wide peripheral war that would endanger safety of all countries region including Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Greece