What The New York Times has published lately is nothing new. It mentions the signs and indications of what has taken over the American stance toward Syria during the most recent period that embodies granting priority to fighting the Islamic State and Nusra Front in Syria at the expense of ousting President Assad, an issue which the American administration no longer regards as input or a main key for a consensus around the future of Syria.
The shift in the American stance is — practically and realistically speaking — interpreted through the current “international coalition against the Islamic State group” and indirect cooperation with the Iran-supported Shiite forces, including “Asaib Ahl al-Haq” which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, as well as with the Iranian revolutionary guards and even the Syrian regime forces who benefited from the blows of the coalition against the Islamic State group’s warplanes alongside the Syrian warplanes.
It is still not clear whether the efforts of President Barack Obama in reaching a deal with Iran will succeed. But what was offered to it before the deal is, per se, much more important than what was to follow: the shift in the position toward the Assad regime, the coalition against the Islamic State group to strengthen the Iranian power in Iraq in Syria, the threat of a veto against any congressional sanctions against Iran, and keeping a blind-eye toward the Houthis in Yemen. Perhaps, all of the above mentioned matters are indications of what might be the results of the deal in terms of regional agreements.
It is also nothing new, to add to the above-mentioned report, that the Arab official regime, which was thoroughly unwary about destroying Assad, also turned upon itself and became ready for a deal which will keep Assad in authority for a while, but with limited powers; this is what Assad himself rejects. The official Arab regime stepped over the story of toppling Assad and supporting the armed opposition in Syria; its main concern and obsession became fighting the Islamic State group and harmonizing with the international agendas led by the United States.
What is new is the implicit expected abandonment by the Arab regime and the U.S. of their true vision connecting the Islamic State group with the historic Sunni plight in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon — and today we can add Yemen to this list. It is thus clear that talks about the project of enabling the Sunni to confront the Islamic State group in Syria, assimilating them into the political regime in Iraq and granting them a political horizon has completely evaporated and has been replaced by the idea of “tribal awakenings” again.
During the past few days, sources within the Iraqi government announced the postponement of the project to establish the “national guards” until next year, as there are no financial allocations for the project. This is an exposed pretext to get rid of this American-Arab idea, which came into view to convince the Sunni to abandon the Islamic State group and to confront it, while granting them more autonomy, security and military power in the governed areas in which they spread.
Such an idea is, of course, disastrous and destructive because it embodies the sectarian-geographic division in Iraq. The national guards are the Sunni equivalent of the Iraqi military forces, the majority of which came from the Shiite sects. But what is of importance to us on this subject is that this idea is being aborted by the Iraqi government; previously the support of the Sunni tribes in confronting the Islamic State group also stagnated and slowed down, as the Iraqi government feared giving these tribes weapons that might reach the hands of the Islamic State group.
The International community, and Arabs with it, went back to the military and security approach in confronting the Islamic State group and looking into the Sunni crisis from the viewpoint of the tribal awakenings. The project of training the moderate Syrian rebels doesn’t exceed the same awakening idea that is directed against the Islamic State group and not the Syrian regime.
The stenography of the Sunni crisis with the awakenings project will not result in real solutions, even if the Islamic State group is temporarily weakened, placing the current crisis in front of a long, open and extended stage.