When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

How Assad's Fall In Syria Could Overturn The Whole Middle East Chessboard

Analysis: Both inside and outside the Middle East, a consensus appears to be forming that the Assad regime in Damascus must go. But if it does, be prepared for the reverberations to be felt from Tehran and Beirut to Ankara and Riyadh.

Lightning over Damascus
Lightning over Damascus

PARIS - What's at stake in Syria goes well beyond the mere fate of a local dictatorship – however deadly it may be. What is at stake, and is on the brink of collapse, is a major strategic alliance in the Middle East.

The Syrians who have been challenging Bashar al-Assad's regime since March - many paying with their lives – are shaking the axis formed by Damascus and Tehran, along with their Lebanese ally, Hezbollah.

This alliance is at the core of the Islamic Republic of Iran's plan to ensure its supremacy over the region. If this strategy collapses with the fall of the Assad family, it will mean a reshuffling of cards for the entire Middle East, and rather for the better, as the three partners constitute a kind of unified "front of rejection." They are particularly opposed to any changes in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, though they cannot be blamed for the stalled negociations between the two parties.

The Arab League, after suspending Syria, is now considering economic sanctions. The League acts out of weariness: it has repeatedly urged Damascus to withdraw tanks from the streets and open a dialogue with the opposition. To no avail. President Assad has remained deaf to the call, thus explaining his growing isolation.

But the League also acts in a broader context, that of a regional battle, a kind of cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia -- the latter operating as leader of the Arab countries. Among them, the Persian Gulf countries especially fear the Islamic Republic's desires of supremacy. They see the strategic alliance established in the early 1980s between Iran and Syria as a move by Tehran to assert its influence over the region.

Some will say that there is a religious logic to it. Financially supported by Tehran, the Assad family relies on its clan, the Alawis, a branch of Shia Islam that is predominant in Iran, just as it is within the ranks of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Lebanon and Iraq - where a Shiite majority is in power - are two of the few countries of the Arab League that have voted against Syria's suspension. So if the Syrian regime were to collapse, it would shake the grounds of a "Shiite ark" in a predominantly Sunni Arab world that has also received Turkey's decisive support in this battle.

Ankara acts less out of religious solidarity than because of its desire to assert its regional influence. The conservative Islamic party JDP (Justice and Development Party) that has been in power for 10 years in Ankara, continues to carry out its aggressive diplomacy.

Along with Iran, two superpowers are still supporting the Syrian regime: Russia and China. But both countries cannot indefinitely afford being the crutches of a bloody dictatorship that is day after day becoming more and more isolated in the Arab world.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Amer Jazaerly

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

A Closer Look At "The French Roe" And The State Of Abortion Rights In France

In 1972, Marie-Claire Chevalier's trial paved the way for the legalization of abortion in France, much like Roe v. Wade did in the U.S. soon after. But as the Supreme Court overturned this landmark decision on the other side of the Atlantic, where do abortion rights now stand in France?

Lawyer Gisèle Halimi accompanies Marie-Claire Chevalier at the Bobigny trial in 1972.

Lila Paulou

PARIS — When Marie-Claire Chevalier died in January, French newspapers described her role in the struggle for abortion rights as an important part of what’s become the rather distant past. Yet since the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, Chevalier’s story has returned to the present tense.

A high school student in 1971, Chevalier was raped by a classmate, and faced an unwanted pregnancy. With the help of her mother and three other women, the 16-year-old obtained an abortion, which was illegal in France. With all five women facing arrest, Marie-Claire’s mother Michèle decided to contact French-Tunisian lawyer Gisèle Halimi who had defended an Algerian activist raped and tortured by French soldiers in a high-profile case.

Marie-Claire bravely agreed to turn her trial into a platform for all women prosecuted for seeking an abortion. Major social figures testified on her behalf, from feminist activist Simone de Beauvoir to acclaimed poet Aimé Césaire. The prominent Catholic doctor Paul Milliez, said, “I do not see why us, Catholics, should impose our moral to all French people.”

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ