Will Syria become another Iraq? asked Nahum Barnea in Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel). Bashar al-Assad’s regime is obviously on the ropes: The rebels are pounding Damascus and killing top government officials, while more Syrian troops and officers defect every day. The quicker this regime crumbles, the better off the whole region will be. “Each day that passes increases the danger that the aftermath could be an Iraqization of Syria: fragmentation, multiple groups fighting one another, and armed Islamist factions taking control.”
Syrian Kurds have already made a land grab, said Mehmet Y. Yilmaz in Hurriyet (Turkey). The Syrian branch of the PKK—the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has committed so much terrorism in Turkey—has taken control of Syria’s Kurdish regions and is already setting up what amounts to a Kurdish autonomous region, just like the one in Iraq. That’s why Turkey, which has given more support to the Syrian rebels than any other country, should think twice about just what the toppling of the Assad regime will achieve. Actually, “there’s no reason for panic,” said Yavuz Baydar in Today’s Zaman (Turkey). The Kurds may be in control of Syria’s northeast, but the PKK is not the only Kurdish player there. A coalition of 11 Syrian Kurdish democratic groups has formed its own militia, at least as strong as the PKK’s. And the battle-hardened warriors of Iraqi Kurdistan are watching closely and “would never allow” a PKK state to emerge.
If only Iraq’s federal government were so helpful, said Mahir Abu Tayr in Al-Dustur (Jordan). Jordan is being overrun by thousands of Syrian refugees because Iraq refuses to allow them to cross its border. “This is ingratitude and rudeness” of enormous magnitude. Just a few years ago, Syria welcomed “millions of Iraqis” fleeing the conflict in their country—a hospitality Iraq repays today by “slamming the doors in the face of displaced Syrians.” The reason is obvious: The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which is now practically a puppet of Iran, is allied with Assad. But understanding the reason for this policy doesn’t make it more palatable for Jordan. Syria will be unstable for who knows how many months or years, and those refugees will be our responsibility.
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The key to a solution would be to get Assad out of Syria, said Mehmet Ali Birand in Hurriyet. Western diplomats have been scurrying back and forth, sounding out Syria’s friends to find a safe haven where the Assad family could land. But Russia has said no, and Iran remains undecided. As Assad digs in, his allies’ support “will become dimmer.” Then he will be spurred to “show a strong reaction,” and the civil war will ramp up. That’s why this, sadly, is only “the beginning of the end.”
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