Nightmare Scenarios for a Post-Assad Middle East

Nobody's expecting a happy ending any time soon to Syria's civil war. Here are just five things that could go badly wrong when the Assad regime falls

  • Share
  • Read Later
ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS / AFP / Getty Images

Syrian rebels prepare to advance into the Salaheddin district in the northern city of Aleppo to fight against forces loyal to the government , Aug. 4, 2012.

4. Syria Breaks Up

Given the sectarian lines on which Syria’s power struggle is being waged, it’s widely assumed that the regime won’t simply shatter into smithereens when the rebels arrive at the gates of Assad’s home. Instead, it’s assumed that those fighting to keep Assad in power will, when forced by overwhelming odds to do so, retreat to more defensible lines from which they can protect themselves and their core communities. It’s been widely noted that Alawites are moving in large numbers to their coastal heartland and that the pattern of communal violence in Sunni villages and towns that abut it suggest a process of ethnic cleansing to prepare the way. An Alawite coastal ministate that folds in the port cities of Latakia and Tartus, home to the Russian navy’s key warmwater port, may not be viable in the long run, but that doesn’t mean the regime’s core won’t try for one. Even before that, though, a scenario could emerge in which rival armed formations control adjacent territories, as occurred in Lebanon during its 17-year civil war and during Iraq’s civil war in 2006.

(PHOTOS: Syria’s Slow-Motion Civil War)

None of those scenarios are sustainable outcomes, of course, but they could map the outlines of a next phase of warfare after Assad loses control of the Syrian state. But the Alawites aren’t the only breakup threat.

The consensus among Syria’s Kurdish political factions, encouraged by Iraqi Kurd leader Massoud Barzani, who has hosted talks brokering agreement, is to keep their distance from the rebellion even as they take advantage of the regime’s declining ability to control all of Syria by taking control of their own towns and cities.

They won’t necessarily push for independence, but their alignment with the political leadership in Iraqi Kurdistan — and reports that their fighters have already taken control of many key Syrian Kurdish cities — suggests that they may be staking out an autonomous zone similar to that of their Iraqi counterparts. Turkey, which is waging a ferocious war against its own separatist Kurds, will be particularly concerned about developments in Syria’s Kurdish region, although Ankara’s handling of Iraqi Kurdish autonomy suggests it may be more inclined to opt for a strategy of co-option than of intervention.

Still, if the Alawites, Christians and Kurds all decline to embrace the rebellion, that would mean as many as 1 in 3 Syrians remain at odds with whatever new order replaces Assad. And that creates plenty of room for territorial political contests.

MORE: Eyewitness from Homs: An Alawite Refugee Warns of Sectarian War in Syria

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
42 comments
Mehmet Mutlu
Mehmet Mutlu

syria has power and not lost the war forewer

Jermaine Strachan
Jermaine Strachan

A Free Syria

The freedom fighters in Syria are fighting for a peaceful and democratic country but the dictator President Bashar Assad want to keep the country of Syria under his strict military rule. Having Pres. Bashar in power for western countries would be a double negative. The United States would like to see the Syria people free and in a democratic society but with the removal of Pres. Bashar the country of Syria would be open up to terrorist group to enter its government and install a new form of radical Islam. In the past few years countries like Egypt and Libya as gain there freedom from a military dictatorship and the transition has been less than peaceful.

Mehmet Mutlu
Mehmet Mutlu

your foolish idea ı dont agree with you

Jermaine Strachan
Jermaine Strachan

The freedom fighters in Syria are fighting for a peaceful and democratic country but the dictator President Bashar Assad want to keep the country of Syria under his strict military rule. Having Pres. Bashar in power for western countries would be a double negative. The United States would like to see the Syria people free and in a democratic society but with the removal of Pres. Bashar the country of Syria would be open up to terrorist group to enter its government and install a new form of radical Islam. In the past few years countries like Egypt and Libya as gain there freedom from a military dictatorship and the transition has been less than peaceful.

Mehmet Mutlu
Mehmet Mutlu

the other countries give some war materials to kill other people.we saw the peace in ıraq,egypt,and other arabic country.they want to get some strategic plans

Marco Antonio Morin
Marco Antonio Morin

Not only many Syrians want to kill for Assad. At least there is another person, Chavez, so called president of Venezuela.

TheApple77
TheApple77

The West will never reassure the minorities, especially the Christians. The West support the "rebels" who will take over and kill them just like they have in Iraq and Egypt. The "rebels" have a saying in Syria Christians to Beirut and Alawites to the coffin. Hmmm... so how are you going to reassure the minorities if this is their fate. And the Kurds certainly do not deseve their own state. They murdered hundreds of thousands of Assyrians who used to inhabit the areas they inhabit now. News Flash Kurdistan never existed and hopefully it never will.

Sid sridhar
Sid sridhar

The world must prepare for turmoil in the Arab World for many years. Add to this mix an ever increasing Islamic element, we have a lethal mix! All countries created by Colonial powers sitting several miles away in Europe, will face the same fate as Syria. Arab Spring, Internet, changed policy in Washington, instability in Europe, rise of Asia as a power centre, the list goes on! In a decade, this region will witness huge changes and Nation States that spent Billions on weapons, will be forced to spend on its peoples through small localized hamlets/city states, where people share commong values, religion,culture etc. Fasten your seat belts!

moderate Guy
moderate Guy

"...

long after Assad loses meaningful control of Syria as a nation-state."

What exactly is the nation that resides in the Syrian state? I think the Kurds, who are a nation, dismembered and without a state, would beg to differ with whatever answer patronizing western liberal idiots would come up with. 

The Alawites also are more of a separate people, a nation itself, than just a religious sect as the uninformed and unintelligent would presume.

Bill Collins
Bill Collins

there is a very serious situation in Syria : Assad can become the " HITLER "

of the Middle East if he were to unleash the dangerous chemical stuff in

order to win his ' civil war ' !

ricardo lion
ricardo lion

 "The" Hitler?  What about Muslim Arab bloody dictators Saddam Hussein, Omar from Sudan, Gaddafi, etc?

Mysterious_81
Mysterious_81

Muslim Arab bloody dictators.... Saddam Hussain,ok can accept but Gaddafi.........hell No!Wake up man!wht do U think about Gaddafi?how many Libyan's U know personally who hate Gaddafi?Gaddafi is just the victim of his popularity amp; Libya's huge resource.May be it'd surprised U but sarcastically still over 80% Libyan's love Gaddafi,they just didn't want to die for him.Besides.who wants to die,anyway........

ricardo lion
ricardo lion

  Really?  You think that dictator did not kill or torture?  I read

that many were imprisioned, tortured and killed by his regime.  

  If over 80% Libyans loved him, then why didn't he call for elections and run for president?

Path_of_the_righteous
Path_of_the_righteous

Going through your comments, I believe you're misguided. This article is about the Assad regime and its impact on the Middle East,  not about Islam. It's so easy to point fingers at others, eh Ricardo? Have we suddenly forgotten about Pope Urban II? Pope Innocent III? Pope Sixtus IV? I guess they're not as relevant to you as your 'Muslim bloody dictators'. In relation to Matthew 5:16, your light has dimmed, if it ever was illuminated.

Heterotic
Heterotic

This is not about lines drawn in the 1920's. While those were problematic this is about and remains  about Islam. It is a bad religion with many extremists and a compliant silent majority.

zzz05
zzz05

Islam is just an excuse for the governments of the region to chase after political dominance. Much as Christianity was the excuse for European countries to chase after world dominance. 

Amir
Amir

Why is the western world all  the sudden supporting extremists in those countries and yet they fight them in other areas such as afghanistan?

GusFarmer
GusFarmer

 It's not sudden. We've supported extremists there for decades; they were just "our" extremists. We didn't much care how badly they treated their people as long as the oil/commerce flowed and they sounded anti-communist. Case in point, the Saudi regime, which espouses a variant of Islam most Muslims consider radical yet exports it because of the support we give them.

zzz05
zzz05

Well, we supported then in Afghanistan when they were fighting the Russkis. 

Joseph Gaetano
Joseph Gaetano

I'm not sure about the bad religion comment but the part about the silent supposedly good Muslims is 100% correct.  If the truly good Muslims would take up the fight against the extremists it sure would look a lot better for their religion.  Unfortunately they don't and therefore their extremists are the voice and action the world sees.

zzz05
zzz05

Don't confuse Islam and the Middle East, though. The Middle East has always been a battleground between Empires. The spread of Islam out of the area gave rise to a lot of philosophy which Christ would be in agreement with.

GusFarmer
GusFarmer

(Actually, this is to ricardo, below:)

the Koran very specifically calls for PROTECTING other "People of the Book," which includes both Christians and Jews, because of the fact they all share several prophets, a common history, and a common holy site (Jerusalem -- the Dome of the Rock there is a much later addition; the first one was a small structure built of palm fronds, if I recall my history correctly, and most Muslim rulers routinely allowed pilgrimage there by both Jews and Christians). Although there are passages that SOME have read to mean killing those who do not surrender when challenged, history shows Muslim governments have generally treated their minorities pretty well, often better than contemporaneous Christian states. Mohammed wasn't "obsessed" with Jews, although he did believe specific groups of them in Medina had betrayed his followers there and called for the deaths of those particular people.

The fact a few nitwits see that as an excuse for killing "all" Jews is similar to the fact some Christians find Biblical justification for slavery, rape, murder of "heretics" and other horrific acts. In all such cases, the problem is the deranged READER of the book, not the book.

ricardo lion
ricardo lion

  I doubt if Jesus would agreed wit this religion, invented 1,500 years after Judaism, his

religion, and 650 after his death.  The Koran, like Nazism, calls for the killing of Jews. Mohammed was obsessd with Jews.  It calls for

the killing of one specific people (out of thousands...), today less than 0,2% of the world population.  It doesn't call for

the killing of Aztecs, Inuits or Aborigenes, but Jews only.  And all "prophets" in

the Koran are.....  Arabs like Mohammed himself?  Or from any of the thousands of peoples in the world?  No, all Jews.  And when, after is death, the Muslim Arabs from Arabia invaded Palestine they built that vulgar mosque right on top of Judaism holiest site in

the Jewish capital city, Jerusalem.  Not one meter to the right or to the left.  Strange obsession.....

   Jesus didn't even talk to non-Jews (read the so called New Testament) and I doubt very much that he would have agree with Mohammed.

   Jesus was a man of peace, while Mohammed...

jono1412
jono1412

excellent article.  Thank you

Amit_Atlanta_USA
Amit_Atlanta_USA

The ME truly requires a redrawing of maps keeping in view today's ground realities. It's time to erase the artificial lines drawn by the British. 

 

With the news that the Egyptians led by the radical MB President Morsi's plans to integrate Gaza into Egypt, and Syria withering away, it may be time to enhance the security of the long suffering Jews amp; Christians in the region.

 

With the exit of US amp; Israel's allies such as Mubarak, Islamic radicalism taking strong roots there and the constant urging of the Egyptians to abrogate the peace treaty with Israel by rabid anti-Semites like CNN/Time's Mr.Fareed Zakaria things are surely not looking good for America, Israel and the Christians of ME.

 The Christians in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt must be given an option to breakup and merge with Israel, and the "so-called" Palestinians in Jersualem and West Bank relocated to Jordan where they actually belong.

 

Also Israel needs to get some areas of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon that were unfairly ceded to those countries by the British after banishing the Jews living there and effectively creating a tiny, indefensible land mass for Israel.

 

Israel and the ME Christians have the support of over 300 Million Americans and a Billion Non-Muslim Hindu/Christian/Sikh/Jain amp; Buddhist Indians.

 

Incidentally Mr. Zakaria who's stated to be the next US Sec.of State (GOD SAVE AMERICA!) said:

 a) "The Egyptian peace treaty is a treaty between Two Regmes and NOT Two Peoples" - Ref:  “How Democracy can work in the Middle East” – Time Feb 3rd 2011

b) “The Danger is from us (the US) and NOT from them (Al-Qaeda amp; Islamic radicals). Ref: Zakaria “Reflections on 9/11 and its Aftermath” CNN-GPS Sept 9th, 2011.

GusFarmer
GusFarmer

Why should the Palestinians leave a place they'd lived peacefully in for 1,000 years until about 1950? The British and French tried to appease their conscience for doing nothing to help Jews in Europe by giving them someone else's land. That was the 2nd-to-last act in a couple centuries of European powers manipulating the Christians and other minorities of the MidEast for their own benefit (largely economic and political, using religion as a cloak) vs the Ottomans. The last one was the way they carved up the region after WW1 (and largely left Kurds and other minorities they'd promised freedom hanging in the wind.)

Before the 20th C, most of the Jews in the MidEast  were firmly integrated into the Muslim-majority society, often serving as businessmen/merchants in the cities, but with some groups in the rural areas (for example, northern Iraq). There were few Jews in what's now Israel, but Jewish population centers in such far-flung places as Iraq, Morocco and Egypt, and a fair number still in Iran. Many of them were later thrown out by governments who had clashed with and lost the early wars with Israel or voluntarily migrated to take advantage of Israel's "Law of Return" granting them automatic citizenship. The Israeli gov't, however, never bothered to consider the interests of the millions of Palestinians already there, and mostly still doesn't.

I have no problems at all with Jews as people, but the actions of their government (often with our government's approval) has caused some serious issues that need to be addressed. The same is true of acts committed by various Muslim governments. In reality, Jews and Arabs are closely related in genetic, linguistic and theological terms, and those things should be the common ground on which to build peace, but doing that requires accepting historical fact first.

Colonel_Green
Colonel_Green

Calling Fareed Zakaria a rabid anti-Semite is laughable, and the first quote you give there is absolutely true:  the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was made between the Israeli government and the Egyptian military dictatorship, and has never had popular support in Egypt, because Egyptians continue to sympathize with fellow Arabs and want their government to do more to help them.

Also, I don't know where you get this idea that the British deprived Israelis of land.  Only 45% of the Palestine Territory's population was Jewish when the British left.

ricardo lion
ricardo lion

   Judenrein Egypt is the occupied (by te Arabs from Arabia) land of the Copts, the original Egyptians, today just a persecuted minority in their own land.

GusFarmer
GusFarmer

 I wouldn't say the Copts are "the original Egyptians." Last I checked, they don't worship Ra and Isis, do they? Egypt has seen countless migrations and settlers over the millennia, all of them adding to what Egypt now is. The key is working to make sure they live in peace (which, for the most part, they do).

Milind
Milind

What the middle east needs is for the US to get the heck out of it and stop supporting Israel blindly.  That would force Israel towards genuine peace instead of paying lip service and living in perpetual conflict.  None of this of course is going to stop the mess in the Middle East, but it will stop everyone from hating America for supporting autocratic despotic regimes for most of the 20th century on one hand and an imbalanced unbridled support for Israel's attrocities.

GusFarmer
GusFarmer

 Actually, a lot of Muslim radicals (and probably a large percentage of moderates) would particularly love it if we'd stop supporting THEIR OWN dictatorships in our quest for oil. Although I think Israel's policy vs the Palestinians has been deplorable and has fueled reaction from some Muslim nations, a fair amount of that reaction was created as a way to drain opposition to their own regimes, which have been propped up by us for a long time. The Arab Spring may be changing that in some places (so far, the beneficiaries have generally been MODERATE Islamists), but it has yet to even challenge the most radical regime: Saudi Arabia. That's because we've armed Riyadh to the teeth and then some; when the al-Saud dynasty falls, it will be a bloody affair that will make Syria look like a game.

zzz05
zzz05

The US only started "supporting Israel blindly" during the Johnson administration; before that the US was no more tilted towards Israel than any other Middle Eastern country. The US wasn't sending military aid to Israel, France was. When France, Britain, and Israel threatened to topple Nasser after he attempted to seize the Suez Canal, it was the US which came to Nasser's aid. And yet, the "mess in the Middle East" existed even then.

ricardo lion
ricardo lion

    Israel, 0,000000.....1% of te ME, 20% of Palestine,  the Jewish (the religion of Jesus), democratic (rights for all) and civilized

(no civil war,  hanging of gays, women

stoning, “honour” killing of girls by their own fathers and brothers, etc)

country in the region didn't declare war on those Muslim Arab bloody dictatorships and medieval kingdoms, but the other way around.

  What "Israel's attrocities"?

Smooth111
Smooth111

Let them kill each other - this is one of the perks of religion. Death and more death. If they die out, there will be no fight. I don't see a reason why a foreign soldiers should get involved in THEIR PRIVATE MESS:

julis123
julis123

I hope the Kurds get a state. They really deserve one, as opposed to the Palestinians who already have Jordan and Gaza.

TheApple77
TheApple77

They do not deserve their own state, they aquired that land by murdering the original inhabitants of that land the Assyrians

GusFarmer
GusFarmer

Actually, there are still Assyrians there, but they have been a minority for a very long time. The Kurds have been there at least 1,000 years, and in fact ruled that region for quite some time during the Crusades. They're very well represented in Muslim history -- Saladin was a Kurd.

That said, though, Ricardo's comment equating Muslim Arabs with "exporters of terrorism" doesn't reflect the vast majority of Arabs (some of whom aren't Muslim) nor Muslims (a huge number of whom aren't Arab), even in Palestine. Many Palestinians are actually refugees trying their best to live peacefully wherever they ended up, often facing discrimination in various forms. A small handful have joined radical groups, and if we were in their shoes -- their homeland taken from them -- we might do the same. Let's hope we never have to find out.

Regarding Iberia, the Muslims there created the most advanced civilization of the Middle Ages, a place that was a beacon of learning and tolerance (Christians and Jews were active parts of their society) at a time when Europe was drowning in ignorance and poverty. When Spain took over, Ferdinand and Isabella's church-based repression and bigotry forced out the last Jews and Muslims and killed a fair number of more open-minded Christians in the process. Not something even Spain wants to repeat.

Regarding Sudan -- yes, there have been severe atrocities committed by the government in Khartoum, but they've not just targeted Christians. They've brutally repressed southern animists and fellow Muslims in Darfur. Although it's being done in the name of a twisted version of Islam, it's in reality just another sociopathic dictatorship seeking to keep itself in power at any cost. Its rhetoric doesn't matter.

manykant
manykant

 The Palestinians have a state currently occupied by multiple radical jewish factions which I assume you are one of them. The Palestinians are a great people and will have their Nation back in the future. History always repeats itself and Israel will again involute into it.

ricardo lion
ricardo lion

  The Kurds are a distinct people, they speak Kurdish.  Those that started calling themselves Palestinians from 1968 on are Arabs, invaders from Arabia.  Arabs already have 22 countries.  Anyone willing to give them back Iberia or Southern Sudan (where they recently 

killed 300,000 black Christians)?  Do we really need another Muslim Arab country in Palestine, another bloody dictatorship and exporter of terrorism?

Ashley
Ashley

Really sad article to read , 

this one about making money from home is amazing as well , thanks 

=> tiny.cc/MoneyGoldRush

Ashley
Ashley

really sad article to read ,

this one about making money from home is amazing as well , thanks 

=> tiny.cc/PerfectDeals 

DeborahSmythe
DeborahSmythe

Among Middle East and North African nations, Syria is considered to be one of the most corrupt regimes in the region, scoring even lower than both Iran and Egypt.  As shown here, on top of that, the SAR is considered to be one of the world's worst business environments, ranking 134th out of 183 economies in the world:

http://viableopposition.blogsp...