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.
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: