There’s a handful of predictions and speculation about how the development of this face-off can influence the Persian Gulf region. Many analysts pay close attention to how this conflicting situation is going to affect the Syrian dossier.
The Middle East Online portal recalls that since the beginning of the bloody conflict in Syria back in March 2011, the above mentioned monarchies have been supporting anti-government forces that unleashed chaos and destruction upon Syria. However, this latest incident between the sponsors of Syrian separatism left the forces they would sponsor utterly confused.
Arab experts emphasize that over the past couple years Qatar tended to support groups that would adhere to the Islamic conservative ideology, while Saudi Arabia has always been willing to pay anyone who decided to take a shot at Damascus, including Kurds, Arab tribes, etc.
Today, two axes of the armed opposition can be easily distinguished: in the north of Syria there’s predominantly pro-Qatar forces, among which one can find the notorious Ahrar al-Sham, while in the south one can find a great of forces that are a part of the pro-Saudi alliance Jaysh al-Islam.
Because of the general confusion that can be found these days among the opposition forces numerous splits are taking place within various detachments turning arms against each other due to the bitter rivalry that exists between various field commanders. The recent clashes in the eastern part of Ghouta between Jaysh al-Islam and al-Rahman Corps supported by Doha and Ankara serve a perfect illustration to this statement.
Now, according to the Jordanian newspaper Al Anbat, there’s two positions on the possible consequences of the quarrel in the Persian Gulf. Those who adhere to the fist one believe that the crisis will have a positive impact on the so-called Syrian opposition since they will be able to gain independence from external players, which will allow it to make its own decisions in the field.
Those who oppose this idea seems to completely disagree with the above listed statement. They argue that the face-off between Saudi Arabia and Qatar will have disastrous consequences for the opposition, since it’s going to be plunged into internal feud while its leadership is going to be paralyzed.
The reason for that, they argue, is that the opposition leaders took no effort to manifest themselves as true Syrian patriots from the very beginning. They didn’t care enough to propose a political project, a clear alternative to the sitting government, therefore all they’ve been fighting for was the destruction of Damascus for the sake of it.
To make the matters worse, from the onset of the conflict they chose to embrace foreign sponsors that were pursuing their own interests in Syria. Their faces were quick to appear in the political arena, during various forums, but they would disappear as rapidly, which indicated that they lacked deep support of the society and its different strata.
According to Middle East observers, the parties engaged in this conflict would curse each other loudly in the heat of controversy, accusing various groups of enjoying armed and financial support of external forces. Then those groups would seek to renounce such sponsorship, to fight back against accusations, loudly announcing that all they cared for has always been the people of Syria, but often it’s too late at that point.
Representatives of the Syrian opposition, according to some authors, will look like “orphans” in the seventh round of the Geneva conference. There will be no one to take them by the hand, there is no one to tell them that it’s going to be all right.
Another possible outcome of the current crisis is proposed by the Arab Weekly, published in London. If Doha and Riyadh decide to settle their accounts in the Syrian field, far from the Persian Gulf, this could be fatal for the Syrian opposition. After all, in that case funds and weapons will be flowing into Syria not to support a common struggle against the government forces, but in order to make the rivalry between opposition forces even more bitter.
Representatives of different clusters of the opposition prefer to keep quiet. They are anxiously watching the escalation of the opposition forces crisis, paralyzed with fear for their future in the face of uncertainty.
Will they be mere pawns in a political game, in which rival parties, including Iran and Turkey, may get involved in order to pursue their own interests thus forming new unexpected alliances?
Yury Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”