France and the UK are pressing the EU for approval to directly arm the Syrian rebels, and for now, are being rebuffed by fellow EU members. The reality is that France (ex-coloniser of Syria and Lebanon) and the UK have been arming and supporting the rebels since the war’s inception via their “intelligence” departments; either directly via “discreet” arms shipments into Turkey and Jordan by air , or indirectly, via weapons bought and shipped through the hereditary (Sunni) dictatorships in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the CIA also mounting extensive weapons distribution and training programmes inside Turkey and now Jordan.
Why then the EU request for direct military assistance of the rebels?. By committing the formal military networks that the various EU countries possess, into the war, Britain and France will be able to seamlessly pull in the other European countries into an ongoing military occupation of Syria/Lebanon to combat the extremist risks they have done so much to create. This will create yet another combat zone where civilians will have to subsist in a land without the necessary infrastructure of adequate food water and sewage systems to survive-another Palestine, Libya or Afghanistan in other words. By doing so, it will deprive the Iranians of one more of their state allies in the region and one less supporter of a Palestinian state. This will however also inevitably lead the two Shi-ite governments of Iraq and Iran into closer alliance.
Israel, with its rascist government in some dissaray, is wavering in its support of the rebels; havering between the risks of having Salafists on its borders and having an opportunity to remove one more of its arch-enemies who dares to block its advance into, and occupation of, “Greater Israel”.
On the other side, Russia is carefully supporting the Assad regime with “top-up” armaments and training, and giving moral and tactical support through its Mediterranean naval exercises out of the Russian Tartus naval base on the Syrian coast. Similarly Iran appears to be using its informal military network ; the Iran Revolutionary Guard or ‘Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’ (IRGC), with the likely support of Hezbollah, to supply and train the paramilitary and Shi-ite/Alawite units supporting Assad. For now, China appears to be offering moral, but not much else, support to the Assad regime. This is unlikely to change.
Iraq’s Shi-ite government is also very keen to ensure that the Salafist groups (affiliated or not to Al Qaeda) supported by Qatar and Saudia Arabia, (and rather more directly by the Western powers than they would care to admit), do not gain a long-term foothold in Syria with unimpeded transport lines to the Arabian peninsula and Turkey from the Mediterranean and the Muslim entities of the former Soviet Union; thereby significantly improving their strategic position in Iraq.
As always, the Western powers are attempting a divide and rule approach; using their long term hereditary dictatorship Sunni allies of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Qatar to offset the growing influence and power of the Iranians, and the Shi-ite disaster they created for themselves in Iraq. The risks of blowback this time however are even more enormous. The growing salafist influence in the Turkish border region and beyond, the growing power of the Kurds straddling so many different ‘middle east’ countries, the potential for a massive upswing in Sunni versus Shite violence in Iraq, let alone the potential overthrow of the current Iranian theo-demo-cracy with something unknown and likely more radical, has the potential to lead to the establishment of a real Salafist caliphate in the region; with all its violent, expansionist medieval and misogynist cultural impacts, and a real “clash of civilizations” with the West.
Such would be the delight of the neo-conservatives!
And just to make things slightly more complex!- it would appear the power balance is swinging-as the current desperate gas shortage in freezing temperatures in the UK demonstrates. The oil/gas-rich Sunni dictatorships are acquiring considerably more leverage in cash-strapped Western states then ever before, even while their own societies implode.
Read Moon of Alabama’s current relatively considered take on the Syrian situation here
Or Tony Cartalucci’s more radical view of the weapons shipments issues here calledCONFIRMED: US Shipping Weapons to Syria – Al Nusra’s “Mystery” Sponsors Revealed
Or Henry Precht at Lobe Log’s “Syrias civil war and its unintended consequences”