Convergence is when a certain set of actions created and performed by various interests influence an event at the same time, in the same place. That’s what’s going on in Syria.
While this story is unfolding, I wanted to explain why I believe it would be a mistake to take any action in response to chemical weapons being used there.
What are the interests converging in Syria, and how are they influencing events in Syria? The first is the genetically chosen leader of Syria, Bashar Al Assad. Assad has been the dictator of Syria since 2000. Prior to his accent to that post, his father Hafez Al Assad seized power in a coup from radicals in 1971. Since that time Assad has been a strongman, opposed to the Jewish state and an enemy of the West. This aligned Assad and Syria with the old Soviet Union and now Russia. The Assads are Alawites….a sect of Shia Islam. The Assads have ruled Syria for close to 50 years and for the bulk of those years; have had a stable government and country. Not until the rise of ISIS did the civil war bring chaos to Syria. ISIS is radical Sunni Islam, and a violent enemy of Assad. I might ad, that as most of you know Shia and Sunni have been fighting with each other for 1300 years.
The second interest in this convergence is ISIS. ISIS began in Iraq when the US, under Obama, pulled its forces out. This led to ISIS growing rapidly when many ex-Iraq military joined ISIS. ISIS flooded into Iraq and claimed huge swaths of Iraq. ISIS then joined the anti-Assad militants now trying to defeat the Assad government. Assad and ISIS were in direct conflict militarily. Assad began to lose territory. This brought the third interest into Syria….the Russian military.
So the third interest is Russia. Russia aligns with Syria for one reason…to counter American interests. Syria has a coast on the Mediterranean Sea. This coast provides a port for access to the European southern coast. Russia desires this access. Also, Syria is a natural pipeline route from the Gulf to Europe. Something Russia will not accept.
The next interest in Syria is from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The Saudis have been trying to create a direct pipeline to Europe for many years. It has to traverse Syria, and Assad has prevented that for decades. His alliance with Russia is the reason. Russia provides, through its own pipelines, much of the gas and oil to Europe and does not want that challenged.
Then there’s America and the CIA. This interest is not well understood by the American people. They have helped the Saudis for years to create an insurgency within Syria. They too, want Assad overthrown and have worked feverishly to make that happen. In fact in 2011, when the civil war began, America aided the new insurgency. This is when ISIS saw its chance. It opened a second front in Iraq, in Eastern Syria and began to fight Assad forces. America saw to it ISIS had the weapons needed to accomplish the mission. Once Russia joined the fray, things got a lot more complicated. It became a proxy war between the US and Russia.
A minor player is the FSA (Free Syrian Army). They are the true insurgents fighting Assad, from the beginning. We support the FSA.
Israel also has a stake in the conflict. Israel shares a border with Syria. Hezbollah is a key force in Syria and an arch enemy of Israel. Israel is concerned that the war will spill over into its own country if Assad is backed into any corner.
Another interest in Syria is Turkey. One of the players in the conflict aided by the US is the Iraqi Kurds. Kurdistan is an autonomous region in Northern Iraq that borders Turkey. It shares its form of Islam with Kurds that live in Turkey and Syria. The Kurds have a loose alliance with the US and have been the main fighting force in the war with ISIS. Turkey is adamantly opposed to Kurdistan and considers Kurds terrorists and a threat to Turkish sovereignty.
And finally, Iran now has an interest in Syria. Iran is a supporter and funder to Hezbollah and more recently has supported Assad directly because of its alignment economically with Russia. It must be mentioned that there is the overarching conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia for control and influence in the Greater Middle East. SA and Iran are both large oil giants. Iran is Persian Shia Islam and SA is Sunni/Wahabi Islam. Both nations oppose ISIS.
I have only provided the most basic of highlights as I understand them. As you might appreciate, every one of these interests is very complex. Some are economic, some are political, and some are ideological. But all these various interests converge in Syria. Did I mention that Damascus, Syria is 149 miles from Megiddo, Israel, the place we call Armageddon? But seriously, the complexity of these interests and the convergence that is occurring is very scary stuff. More importantly, put your common sense hat on, if you can. With all these interests at play can we be certain who was responsible for the reported chemical attack that is prompting a potential attack by the US? Think about this: the Congress is unable to obtain a single document from the Intelligence Community explaining the evidence behind the Russian collusion investigation, but on the other hand are willing to share all available intelligence that would prove unequivocally that Assad was responsible for the chemical attack. Let me say this: Even with the super powers of the NSA and CIA how can, even they be sure whose fingerprints are on these weapons? If the CIA wanted it to look like Assad did it, are they not capable of making that happen? If Iran or Russia wanted it to look like the rebels were responsible, couldn’t they do that? And if a sect of rebels wanted the US to attack Assad, could they not do it with impunity? They know the NSA is watching. They know what evidence will show guilt. There is no possibility the truth can be certain. To use this attack as a pretext for escalation in the conflict, seems to me to serve the interests of war mongering neocons, ISIS, or old school, cold war veterans that yearn to fight Russian interests.
In my view, the US has made major mistakes in the Middle East, but any further escalation of our involvement in Syria would rank right up there with the war in Iraq as a huge mistake. I suppose at one time in US history, oil and access to oil was a pretty important interest for America. Oil has always been our interest in the Middle East. It has shaped all our policies, foreign and military aid, economic investments, and much of our rhetoric. But today, oil has become far less important of a reason to shape our foreign policy in the Middle East. But can we change? I hope that president Trump will find the wisdom to understand the forces advising him and see through any certainties they offer. There is no reason to escalate this war if not for the very reason to topple Assad, drive out Russia and Iran, and remain the perennial peace keeper in the Middle East. If the goal is to maintain perpetual war in the Middle East, then succumbing to the temptation to punish Assad for an impossible to prove event, will get it done.