Pinhas Inbari

Copyright: Pinhas Inbari on line 

Note: RIEAS received this article from Pinhas Inbari.

The main story of this week looks to me the significance of the Damascus terrorist attack that occurred earlier today (Saturday). Although it is not the first of late – it is the first of this dimension reminiscent of the kind of major terror attacks that rocked Israel in the second Intifada.

There are two sources to this attack and the deterioration in Syrian domestic security in general: the one is the growing schism between Shi'a and Sunna on the one hand and the growing sense of cold war between Russia and eh USA on the other. 
As for the Shi'a-Sunna struggle, Syria is regarded in Riyadh and the Moslem Brothers movement as belonging to the Shiite sphere of influence. Hence, it is targeted by both especially after the assassination of the Lebanese pro Saudi leader, Rafiq al-Hariri. Both Syria and Saudi Arabia are using al-Qaeda elements against each other and lately the Saudis are doing better job in mobilizing Salafist groups against Syria.

In Tripoli area in Lebanon, for example, the pro-Syrian Alawite community was attacked by Salafist groups and caused great embarrassment to Bashar Assad as the Alawites in Tripoli are close kinship to the ruling elite in Damascus and are not far from the Alawaite centers in Syria.

The Syrian army is now concentrating near Tripoli ready to invade and Bashar was reported as saying to Sarcozy that for him the situation in Tripoli is similar to the one in Georgia as far as Russia was concerned. 
This takes us to the other, interconnected, aspect – the cold war. Russia regards Syria as its anchor in its renewed influence in the Fertile Crescent, and the Saudis cannot accept it.

We have to mention here the latest campaign launched by MBs main preacher, Sheikh Qaradhawi, against Iran and the Shiites.

How Israel fits in? The Mughanniya case told us that there is behind the scenes cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states on anti Iran-Shiite security matters.

While they have large regional contacts and influence on Sunni groups of all kinds, Israel has the experience and also a Mossad old networks with anti Syrian elements in Lebanon. It was worth mentioning that immediately after the killing of Mughanniya the Saudis and the Kuwaitis closed their embassies in Beirut fearing Hizbullah retaliation.

A side front to the same battle we can find in Gaza, as Hamas confronted the Salafist strong group of the Army of the Umnmah that was considered close to the Saudis. Although Hamas basically belongs to MBs, as far as the Saudis are concerned they are part of the Shi'a.

During the Mecca accords negotiations as far as the Saudis were concerned the most important thing was drifting Mash'al away from his Iranian loyalty back the Sunna- but they failed. For them it was enough to define Hamas as part of the Shi'a infrastructure.

Muhammad Dahlan, who is also close to the Saudis, in his website, uses to attack Hamas for her Iranian- Shiite affiliation.

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