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Syria Is Not Going To Change

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Tue, Apr 06, 2010 | The Rubin Report | By Barry Rubin

Syria Is Not Going To Change

Splitting Alliances: Why The West Will Fail With Syria As It Once Did With Italy.

Reading history I realized a marvelous analogy for current Western attempts to pry Syria from its alliance with Iran. While few remember it today, there was a strenuous British and French campaign during the 1930s to lure Benito Mussolini’s Italy from aligning with Germany. They flattered the dictator and ignored his repression at home and aggression abroad–including his unprovoked assault on Ethiopia–in this effort.

Of course, they failed. One could say that failure was inevitable because of the similarity between the regimes in Berlin and Rome. Consider three additional factors.

First, there was no way the British and French were able to offer Mussolini more than Hitler did. They had neither the power nor the stomach to sell out more countries to Mussolini. Germany could always offer more because it was ruthless and wanted to destroy the status quo.

Second, Mussolini understandably concluded in 1940 that Germany was winning. For years he’d watched Western appeasement and diplomatic retreat. He saw Germany getting powerful weapons without the Anglo-French bloc stopping it. And he witnessed German military victories. He hopped on the German bandwagon.

Third, the West wouldn’t ever act in such a way that Mussolini was more afraid of it than of Hitler.

Analogies can be misleading, of course, and analogies to Germany are overworked. Still, this one might have some use in explaining why the West isn’t going to flatter, concede, or pay enough to split an alliance which, after all, has persisted for thirty years and now believes itself the wave of the future.


Tue, Apr 06, 2010 | The Rubin Report | By Barry Rubin

The map from the Official Syrian Ministry of Tourism website. Top left, the Turkish Iskanderun region, claimed by Syria and marked green on the official map. Bottom left, the Golan Heights, claimed by Syria and during the 1967 war conquered by Israel. Also marked green on this map.

Syria Is Not Going To Change

Syrian Regime never makes lasting peace or real compromises, still claimes territory from its new “friend” Turkey.

Ha! Syria now proclaims itself a good friend of Turkey and vice-versa. No problems, right? But go to the official website of the Syrian Ministry of Tourism and guess what? There’s a map in which the Syrian government claims the Turkish territory of Alexendratta (Iskanderun), which was passed to Turkey back in the 1930s. At several points in recent times, the Syrian government told the Turks it was dropping the claim.

But, of course, the Syrian regime never gives up on its goal of dominating the Arabic-speaking world and incorporting all of Lebanon, Israel, and Palestinian-ruled territories into its empire. When they are feeling in a good mood they sometimes throw in Jordan, as well as Iraq as a sphere of influence.

Meanwhile, the United States courts Syria, ignoring for all practical purposes its involvement in massive terrorism in Iraq and Lebanon. Yet the idea that Syria’s regime is going to change its direction and become moderate is an illusion. They haven’t even moderated in real terms toward their new friend, Turkey.

The contemporary map of Syria, without the Iskanderun region and the Golan Heights.


About the author,

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood.


Posted in: SyriaThe Middle East 

5 Comments to “Syria Is Not Going To Change”

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