Did Syria and Iran win in their indirect war on Iraq?
This question has been occupying my thoughts in the last few days and to reach an answer, we should first know the goals of the US in the region and whether these goals have been failed or they're merely witnessing slow progress?
And are we going to see some determination on reaching these goals or are we going to see strategic changes from offense to defense in the plans?
I think the changes in the Middle East do not originally represent an American desire but they're more like a need that imposed itself on the US and the world as instability in this region negatively affects many parts of the world.
Troubles have spread from the Middle East to get on planes and hit targets in New York, and wore explosive belts to blow up trains in Madrid and London and some have even went as far as hitting targets Indonesia.
The reasons (and theories) that explain the spreading (or export) of these troubles may vary; some say that the West's policy toward Israel is what inflamed the situation.
Ironically, the same people who adopted this theory a few years ago now say that war in Iraqis the main reason.
But I do believe that dictatorships are the main reason; the Arab regimes didn't accept Israel as a neighbor, of course not because they care about the Palestinians and their interests as everyone knows how Palestinians are treated in Arab countries and how many thousands on them were killed in Jordan and Lebanon and perhaps Arabs killed more Palestinians than the Israelis did.
Obviously, Arab regimes and leaders didn't like Israel because it's a democratic state and its presence in the region can threaten their thrones.
Actually I think that Arabs who live inside Israel and the Joulan heights know this better than I do and I don't think they'd like to replace their Israeli passports with passports from any Arab country; they know the difference and even people living inside Arab countries began to see the difference after the revolution in communications and news flow.
In the last 50 years, Israelis went to the ballots more than ten times and 'faces' change there all the time while we are still facing the same faces that took over power thirty years ago.
What I wanted to say is that after the fall of Saddam, Arab regimes began to look at Iraqi as a second threat; as another emerging democratic project that must be foiled and stopped from growing.
So, the dramatic change that took place in Iraq was seen by the neighboring regimes and their terrorist allies as an imminent disaster; it hit their theory in the heart.
They were thinking that the US would not have the will or courage to attack but they discovered shortly after that the US was so determined to do the change and that's why their counter attack had to be a fierce one because it became a matter of existence to their regimes and their age-old ideology which they thought no one would dare to mess with.
Sadly enough, these regimes and terrorists were more prepared for the post-war phase than the US was and they the roles distributed and everyone knew his duties even before the fall of the statue.
-First there was the terrorist organizations that lost an important source of support when Saddam fell and thus they had to do a great deal of the fighting so they joined the remains of the Ba'ath and hired mercenaries to prepare for a long war with the US and the Iraqis that favored the change, So Al-Qaeda had a big role in recruiting suicide bombers and fighters and worked with some Iraqi groups to organize shelters and logistic support for the fighters.
On the other hand, the Syrian-Iranian alliance didn't stand idle as well as other Arabic regimes; every party had its role in the war and they were all more prepared than America was.
-Syria provided funds and logistic support for the Iraqi terror groups, the regime there offered them shelter and training facilities and also facilitated their passage to/from Iraq and the Syrians actually didn't have to pay a penny as Saddam and his gang had smuggled billions of dollars to Syria months before March 2003.
-Iran is planning to foil the democratic process in Iraq taking advantage of democracy itself "Okay, you want to play democracy? We're in"
So Iran decided to provide full support to the She'at religious parties and help these parties reach power and perform a coup on democracy using democracy itself and in some cases there have been some limited military interventions too.
-The rest of dictatorships used directed biased media to make the change look like a total evil plan that destroyed Iraq and will extend to become a war against Islam and Arabs.
The most effective message they sent was "People, this change is against your interests and it will bring catastrophic consequences upon you".
The reactions of the dictatorships and the terror organizations was massive and well organized and they frankly succeeded to some extent in hindering the progress in Iraq and changing the direction of the democratic process.
These partial successes encouraged Bashar Asad and some others feel victorious and say things like "we don't think that the US would repeat the Iraq scenario in other places, this seems far from possible at the moment because the US has failed in Iraq".
He actually wanted to say "We made the US fail".
Is this really the case now?
I would say that the war in Iraq would not stop unless it is taken to another front and our strategy must focus on chasing terrorism and striking its bases and strongholds instead of waiting for it to strike.
The objectives of our mission cannot be accomplished without changing the Syrian and Iranian regimes in any possible way because the battle in Iraq will not stop until guns are heard in Syria and Iran.
These two regimes are looking for half-solutions that prolong their stay for several more years and of course they've learned from Saddam who managed to stay in power for 12 years after 1991 by making full use of half-solutions.
Our current situation cannot tolerate further postponement and every delay will reflect negatively on democracy in Iraq and peace in the Middle East and I fear that the signs of changes that are emerging in Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt would be buried in their cradle before they see the daylight IF the regimes felt safe again.
Bottom line is and to answer the question I put in the beginning of this post I say; No, they haven't won yet but if these two regimes cannot be changed soon (whether on the hands of inside or outside powers) then their chances of winning will be much greater.
While the world has to fight the terror-supporting regimes we will keep fighting terror inside Iraq and only this level of cooperation can save Iraq, the region and the world from the counter attack of the terror-dictatorship axis.