TEHRAN – A South Alabama University professor says “extremist elements such as the al-Nursa, will be emboldened” if the United States attacks Syria.
“It is hard to predict how it (war) will evolve, or even if it would be possible to keep it limited,” Nader Entessar tells the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: What groups would benefit most if the U.S. attacked Syria?
A: There are several parties than can be considered beneficiaries of an American military attack on Syria. Those groups that are engaged in active warfare against the Syrian government, particularly the most extremist elements such as the al-Nusra, will be emboldened. At the regional levels, countries that have been pushing for a military attack on Syria, especially Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent, Turkey, will be the beneficiary of an attack on Syria. At least in the short-run, the United States will satisfy the demands of regional clients and will enhance their regional standing.
Q: Why has the U.S. toned down war rhetoric against Syria?
A: At this time, there is little domestic or international support for another major U.S. war in the Middle East. This partly explains why the U.S. announcements describe America's military attack on Syria as limited in scope and duration. However, once the conflict begins, it is hard to predict how it will evolve, or even if it would be possible to keep it "limited."
Q: Could an attack on Syria be the beginning of an extensive war in the region?
A: Depending on how the conflict evolves, the military attack on Syria may be a test run on further and more extensive attacks beyond the Syrian targets. In other words, the course of the conflict and its evolution will have a direct bearing on what happens next. In fact, in his recent speech on Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry linked a potential U.S. attack on Syria with Washington's Iran policy. In Kerry's words: "This matters also beyond the limits of Syria’s borders. It is about whether Iran, which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons attacks, will now feel emboldened, in the absence of action, to obtain nuclear weapons" This is the first time that a high level U.S. official has publicly linked U.S. policy towards Syrian crisis with Iran's nuclear program.
Q: What is the U.S. plan for a post-Assad Syria? How could it bring extremist groups under control?
A: This is one of the unknowns of the Syrian crisis. Washington may have devised a plan for itself, but it has not been discussed publicly, and we know very little about "the day after the attack." Maybe the U.S. doesn't have a good option and is indeed fearful that the extremist groups will not be controllable. One's the proverbial Pandora's box is opened, it may be very difficult to put the lid back.
Q: What challenges will Russia face if a pro-Western regime comes to power in Syria?
A: Since the downfall of the Soviet Union, Russia has lost significant clout in world affairs, especially in the Middle East. If the Syrian government is replaced by a pro-Western regime, Russia's last foothold in the region will be gone, and consequently Moscow's influence as a political and strategic player will be further eroded.