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

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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