Category Archives: Hezbollah

Extremism in Syria, Geopolitics, and Future Scenarios

One of the central themes that have been dominating the media lately regarding the Syrian crisis has been the participation of (Islamist) extremist elements in both of the camps of the civil war. What is the situation now in Syria, and what might the current developments hold for its future?

It is by now well known that the ethno-religious synthesis of Syria is making the conflict even more complicated than the external interests involved already make it. In light of this, the recent reports on the exploitation of the struggle from Islamist groups and the regional and global responses to the crisis point to a serious escalation of the conflict.

After the important move from the part of the Arab League to politically legitimize the Syrian opposition (Syrian National Coalition) by offering it Assad’s seat at the latest summit in Qatar, things have taken a turn for the worse. This might not be directly – or at least, obviously – related to other events but it shows how political and military developments go hand in hand as the crisis escalates. Of course, there were reports on Islamist groups operating in Syria before that, such as the jihadist Salafists from Gaza. According to Asmaa al-Ghoul, the Gaza Salafists see Syria as a good opportunity for conducting jihad, unlike Gaza where “the door…is closed”. The leader of the group, which joined the Syrian group Jabhat al-Nursa, also remarked that their ideology is the same with that of al-Qaeda.

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Israel, Gaza & the Mideast: An ‘Indirect Approach’?

By Zenonas Tziarras & Panagiotis Andrikopoulos*

Published on EurasiaReview, November 18th, 2012

This article is overreaching and it does so because it accepts one axiom: the only politics that matters is the politics that happens “under the table”. While this does not refer to conspiracy theories it does imply that most people do not know most of the things that shape the socio-political and economic realities of our world. Therefore when a political situation unfolds, depending on the broader context, one has to try to look at the bigger picture; in other words, try to think “outside the box”, if they would like to decode what the reality might be.

Having said that, strategic thinking could help us find unconventional solutions to problems as well as better understand real situations. One of the greatest strategists of the 20th century, Basil Liddell Hart, argued that the more indirect the strategy, the shorter the way to the end, and the more decisive the results. Looking at the unfolding events in Gaza through this prism, even though Israel’s approach may be indirect in tactical terms, as it is based on artillery and airstrikes for now, the ‘indirect’ here does not refer to Israel’s operations in Gaza but to the role these operations play in a possible greater ‘indirect’ strategic plan of the West. This means that, at this juncture, we are looking at the Middle East as a chessboard whereon western and non-western powers clash, and pawns (of different value) such as Israel, Hamas, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Russia, the US and others have a role in the moves that lie ahead. Within this framework there are two questions to be answered: 1) what is the grand strategic aim of the West? Put simply, what is the geopolitical end-game that the West aspires to – in the Middle East? And 2) what micro-strategies/tactics (including ‘indirect approaches’) will be employed in order for this aim to be achieved? Lastly, there is one simple question that triggers and drives the whole discussion: why Gaza, and why now?

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