Iraq the Latest Dragged Into Syria Proxy War Intrigue

Turkey, Egypt Ratchet Up Rhetoric

by Jason Ditz, September 05, 2012

Few wars in recent history have been such overt proxy wars as the Syrian Civil War. The Assad regime is clearly losing popularity domestically, and reliant on foreign backing to keep itself in power. And while the rebels try to claim some connection to the anti-Assad protests, it is clear that they are more interested in selling themselves to the international community than to the public of cities they capture.

Influence is a buyer’s market in Syria, and while nations like Russia and Iran continue to back the existing regime, there are no shortage of other nations, from NATO to the GCC, looking to throw money and arms behind the rebels, in hopes of eventually installing their own bought and paid for allies in Damascus.

Even nations that seem keen to stay out of the proxy war are getting dragged in, with Iraq suddenly finding itself accused of backing Assad, who they’ve never particularly cared for in the first place, on the grounds that are allowing their close ally Iran to use their airspace for shipments to Syria. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I – CT) blasted Iraq, warning that their ties with the US, which occupied them from 2003-2011, were at risk.

As Iraq looks for a way out, Egypt is looking for a way in, with President Mohamed Mursi demanding Assad step down immediately, while trying to position himself as a spokesman for the Arab Spring movement regionwide. Turkey, already hosting the rebels and openly backing them, also blasted Assad again today, calling Syria a “terrorist” state because it is fighting its own people.

Which is a tough thing for Turkey to get all proactive about with a straight face, as even today they launched air strikes against rebel targets inside their own nation as part of a civil war against ethnic Kurds that has been going on for nearly 30 years. Turkey, like Syria, argues their own rebels are “terrorists” and must be wiped out, and like Syria doesn’t seem particularly successful at doing so.

But Iraq seems to be the major story in the proxy war today, and as the US ratchets up the rhetoric against what was itself supposed to be a US puppet state (installed in a bloody decade of war) the Maliki government is pushing for some actual evidence to back up the allegations. Evidence has never been the strong suit for hawkish US officials, who are instead pressing Iraq to start boarding planes to search for the evidence themselves.

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