It is well to remember that in the world of real politique countries do not have “friends”. They have “interests”.
So where do America’s “interests” lie in the ongoing Syrian conflict? Not an easy question to answer.
We have an interest in maintaining stability in the region and anything or anyone that threatens that stability is an American concern. The Arab Spring has undermined that stability as the autocrats that were our “friends” have been replaced by revolutionaries of the Muslim Brotherhood stripe.
We have an interest in the unimpeded flow of oil . Ours and the world economies depend on this.
We have an interest in stemming the spread of radical Islamist influence in the region.
We have an unusual relationship with Israel that benefits both nations and we bristle at anything that threatens that alliance or the Jewish state.
Clearly these are American “interests and the disintegration of Syria into virtual chaos and civil war does not serve our “interests”.
An example of the law of unintended consequences at work.
During the Russian war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Mujahedeen were our “friends” and, as the President then of the American Freedom Coalition, I was actively involved in their political support in DC. We lobbied and organized rallies to help their cause.
I remember one young Afghan boy of about 12 who was there at one of the DC demonstrations. He was a beautiful child with a handsome face but I also remember how rough his hands were from the life he had to live in that hell hole. These were tough and brave people we admired and, most important, they were the enemies of our then enemy, the Soviet Union. That was America’s interest then.
The US Government gave them stinger missiles then that they used with great effect against the Russian helicopters and ultimately the Russians recognized the inevitable and packed their bags and went home licking their wounds. I wonder about that young boy. He would now be in his late 30s or early 40s. Many of those young fighters that I saw in DC then are now adults and may now be our enemies And what of those stingers?? Where are they?
When you strip away all of the extraneous noise, the Syrian conflict is really the latest chapter in a sectarian war that began in the 7th century when, following the death of Mohammed. Islam split into 2 warring factions over the question of how to select his successors.
The Sunni branch makes up about 85% of the Muslim world. The Shiites make up the balance of about 15%.
And they hate each other. Almost as much as many of them hate us.
Good current example of this at work. The Washington Times 6/25/13 reports that an Egyptian mob of 3000 Sunnis in the Giza district recently burned the houses of and murdered 4 Shiite Muslims..
According to these Egyptian Sunnis, their victims deserved what happened to them for being heretics. One Sunni is reported to have said “We’re happy about what happened. It should have happened long ago. Shiites are infidels”
Please understand: In this modern context the Shiites are Iran, and the majority population of Iraq (now ruled by a Shiite president) and the Alawites ( a branch of Shia Islam) of the Assad regime in Syria. Most of the rest of the Muslim world including the radical Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, are Sunni.
The Sunni Saudis are no fans of the Alawite/Shia Syrian regime and have been actively trying to undercut Assad there..
In this context, the cruel nature of some of the Saudi religious leaders is seen for the EVIL system that it is. (emphasis intentional)
In January 2013, Newsmax reported the following story. “A Saudi Wahhabi preacher’s religious decree reveals barbaric justification emanating from the kingdom’s clerics. Saudi preacher……….issued a fatwa that allows jihadi fighters to rape Syrian women”. The stated justification for this decree? Because they have “not been with a woman for two years and” (according to this cleric, he) “is allowing them to engage in ‘intercourse marriage’ that lasts for a few hours ‘in order to give each fighter a turn’. It is the women’s duty” (according to this Muslim Imam…. Imagine if an American pastor made the same argument?) “ to acquiesce in this arrangement in order to reach paradise because it ‘boosts the determination of the Mujahideen in Syria’ as long as they” (the female victims) “are at least 14 years old, widowed or

Such is the religious mind set of Saudi Sunnis involved in this war to topple Assad.
Assad is a clearly a bad dude but it is hard to get into bed with the Saudis
So it is difficult to pick the “good guys” out in this Syrian civil war. And the longer this conflict continues the more difficult it will be to choose sides. The reason is that Islamists are now apparently flooding into Syria on the side of the rebels against the Assad government and they are the same crowd that wants us all dead.
However this all ends up, America’s interests will not be served well.
But clearly no American blood should be shed in this conflict. None. Regardless of what politicians may say, safely ensconced behind wooden desks in Washington DC.
And I welcome your opinion.
Dr. Bob Grant

Dr Robert Grant has been traveling to the Middle East for more than 46 years and has gone there over 125 times hosting groups of friends on holy land tours. As a result he hs been dubbed the holy land guru by some.

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