Libya, Syria, and Iran, Oh My!

The ancient Zoroastrian scriptures encourage mankind to think good thoughts, to fight against lies and chaos. I feel that’s an appropriate introduction to an essay on how I tried to make sense of the latest messes in Libya, Syria, and Iran.

First, Iran. It’s a nation of Shi’a Muslims and its leader, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, hates Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel. Netanyahu hates Ahmedinejad right back. The Sunni Arab states in the Gulf region hate the Iranians because they’re Shi’a. Don’t worry about the differences between the two branches of Islam: they are sufficient enough for radicals on both sides to want to kill each other. Israel and the Gulf Arabs have common cause to want to see Iran rendered incapable of exerting influence in the region.

Next, Syria. While most Syrians are Sunnis, the leadership has come from Alawites, who are kind of like Shi’as. That’s why Iran has supported the Assad regime. If Assad falls, then Sunnis take over and Iran loses an ally in the region. Moreover, the Shi’a Hezbollah in Lebanon would lose a major backer. Israel hates the Hezbollah, so it’s a big win for them to have Assad lose power. Even if radical, anti-Israel nutjobs took over in Damascus, Israel would cut them to ribbons on the Golan Heights and they’d be more likely to wage war on Hezbollah for control of Lebanon. Divide and rule.

Now, Libya. This hits close to home because of the recent loss of the US Ambassador there. To make sense of that nation, we need a bit of history. Back in 2011, that nation rose up in revolt against its dictator. Like so many other dictatorships, this dictator drew most of his support from his tribe. That meant the revolution devolved into tribal warfare, with a range of tribes allying together to overthrow the dictatorial tribe. In the wake of that overthrow, they fell upon each other. Libya remains a lawless, dangerous place where there’s been a wave of bombings since August 2012 and an actual mini-war around the town of Bani Walid – Moammar Qaddafi’s base of support – during the month of October.

So, when people ask in the USA, “If there’s a spontaneous demonstration, do you bring your rocket launchers and automatic weapons?” the answer is “Yes, if you’re in Libya.” In August and September, there were a number of political and military assassinations to go along with the militia clashes. The place is practically a Somalia on the Mediterranean. Government control there is collapsing, with two governors of the Benghazi region having resigned – the people claimed they were incompetent and corrupt, while the governors claimed they had no money or support forthcoming from the central regime in Tripoli.

In that mess of Libya, particularly in Benghazi, someone – terrorist, militiaman, whatever – killed the US Ambassador. Given the chaos in Libya, I can perfectly see it as an unpremeditated crime of opportunity. Given the chaos in Syria, I can also see it as blowback. In Syria, the saying goes, “If you feed a scorpion, it will sting you.”

Many of the fighters against the Assad regime are foreigners, and many of them are Libyan. There may be actual pro-democracy men in the anti-Assad resistance, but most of them are rabid, atrocity-inflicting, card-carrying Islamist extremists. That’s why they’ve been able to match or beat the rabid, atrocity-inflicting, card-carrying Assad extremists. Those anti-Assad forces need weapons, and Libya is a ready source of undocumented weapons that can be shipped anywhere without regards to niceties like proper paperwork or Congressional approval.

The weapons and the fighters flow across the border with Turkey. Turkish towns were shelled recently – while the Western leaders tried to blame Assad, the Turks in the area blamed their own government for using those same towns as staging grounds for aid to the Syrian rebels. When the shelling of Turkish towns failed to produce a massive response, Israel began reporting Syrian shells landing on the Golan Heights, and duly responded in kind.

While it makes no sense at all for Assad’s forces to be provoking both NATO and Israel to unleash an American intervention in their nation, it makes perfect sense for hawks in America, Israel, and the Gulf Arab states (who fund those Islamist extremists) to create false-flag provocations to trigger a conflict that reduces Iran’s influence in the region. This brings me back to that Syrian saying… Osama Bin Laden was killed in May, 2011. The Libyan rebels didn’t enjoy major victories until some time after that – when al-Qaeda men were reported to be in the mix. al-Qaeda men are now reportedly all over Syria right now. Is it a coincidence that the decapitation of al-Qaeda’s leadership was followed by their participation in operations that benefit US-Israel interests?

At any rate, the tragedy of a US Ambassador in Benghazi now serves as a distraction to the larger series of tragedies in Libya, Syria, and – possibly in the near future – Iran.

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