The equivalent of the European 30 Years War in the Middle East?

Writing in her recent Project Syndicate article Professor Anne Marie Slaughter states:

After all, if Geneva II fails, Geneva III will not be about Syria alone. It will be about how to end a war raging across the entire Middle East.

After writing her column, in an interview with Huffington Post in Davos, she explained what she means by war raving across the Middle East. Referring to the current war in Syria she says:

“I think if we can’t stop this now, we are looking at the equivalent of the European 30 years war in the Middle East”.

She then goes on to explain how the European 30 years war was about religion (Catholic vs Protestant) and about territorial revision with all the principalities wanting to redraw borders.

A painting from the 30 Years War.

So could the same happen in this region? Could we face a 30 years of full, blown out war between Shia and Sunni forces in this region?

First and foremost, lets hope she is wrong. Lets hope that the war in Syria ends soon. But hoping is not enough. Both sides seem adamant.

As difficult as predicting the future is in this region, if Professor Slaughter is right and she gets not just the nature but also the time line right, then that means we have another 20 years of fighting left. The reason being that the full Sunni vs Shia war already started in 2003 after the US invasion of Iraq and it continues to this day. So thats already 10 years. Meanwhile some of the extremist Sunni groups fighting in the Iraq war have now moved to Syria. There are also Shia forces being dispatched from Iraq to Syria with Iran’s help.

Both Iran and the Saudis seem adamant in wanting to see the overthrow of the other side’s rulers. Unfortunately they seem to believe that a full proxy war against their rival is the most convenient way to bring this about. The two sides have fought each other before in proxy wars, but this time its much more serious. Each side seems to believe that walking away from Syria is more damaging than staying. Time to hunker down for the long haul.

You can watch the rest of Professor Slaughter’s interview here:

Nasrallah could be regretting his military support for Assad

If Assad goes, so does Nasrallah’s biggest weapon route from Iran, as well as a loyal ally. Therefore Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah does have some genuine geopolitical reasons for wanting Assad to stay.

But Nasrallah should have supported Assad with more discretion. When Assad is killing Sunni civilians en mass in Syria, sometimes even gassing them, Nasrallah standing politically by Assad’s side and declaring public support for him is only going to create more intense animosity towards Hezbollah in the Sunni world. And Al Qaeda and its Saudi sponsors are bound to take advantage from this opportunity for they have been waiting for many years to settle scores with Hezbollah. An example of this was witnessed today when Al Qaeda affiliated groups attacked Iran’s embassy which is situated in a Hezbollah stronghold.

If Nasrallah had no choice in the matter, which is also possible, then this only reinforces the belief that he is the Iranian regime’s puppet in Lebanon. Nasrallah should not have allowed Khamenei to have such a strong hold on him.

It would not be the first time Nasrallah has made a major mistake.

In 2006 he made the mistake of starting a war against Israel by crossing inside Israel’s border and killing two of its soldiers and then kidnapping their bodies. After the war, which cost Lebanon’s economy billions of dollars Nasrallah publicly regretted his decision.

Although not publicly, perhaps privately he is regretting Hezbollah’s support for Assad as well, or for having to listen to his Iranian commanders telling him to support Assad.