Roula Khalaf, the FT’s Middle East editor, says that recent developments have heightened the stakes in the Syrian conflict and increased the possibility of contagion throughout the region.
– SYRIA & ISRAEL: events last week show that Assad is willing to defy Israeli warnings not to move missiles to its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. Israel’s retaliatory strikes show it is increasingly ready to hit back. As Syria becomes more unstable and the risk grows that chemical weapons will fall into the hands of rebel groups, Israel may feel it has no choice but to initiate further military strikes.
– SECTARIAN VIOLENCE: such is the devastation that the conflict has visited upon Syria’s politcal infrastructure and social cohesion that Assad’s departure would likely lead to violent clashes between rebel groups, reprisals against the Alawite population and a struggle between Arabs and Kurds that could spill beyond Syria’s borders: “The Syrian leader is ensuring that his demise comes only at the expense of Syria’s collapse”.
– A FORUM FOR REGIONAL TENSIONS: regional tensions e.g. between Iran and Saudi Arabia, have already been playing themselves out in the conflict. In addition, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are now competing for influence with the opposition.
To see Roula’s full article, click here.