“Is the United States on the verge of another strategic failure in the Middle East? That question will be answered only when the outcome of the conflict in Syria becomes clear. The Syrian conflict is not only between the Assad regime and the Syrian dissenters; it is also between the U.S. and its allies (including Turkey) on one side, and Iran (and to a certain extent Russia) on the other. The battle is over influence in the Middle East. Washington wasted time, failing to accurately read the political map, and despite its current attempts to compensate, it may already be too late.
The coming days will reveal whether or not a cease-fire agreement can be struck between the ruling regime and the rebels in Syria. While nothing is ever final, U.N. and Arab League-sponsored diplomatic efforts are, at this stage, serving the interests of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, there is no indication that the political and military clique surrounding Assad is losing its grip on power. International calls for Assad to step down have ceased, and he is even seen as a potential peace partner.
Looking at the situation from a wider diplomatic perspective, the country that stands to gain the most from Assad’s survival, and possible empowerment, is Iran – Assad’s biggest diplomatic, military, and financial backer. If the Baath regime remains intact, Iran will reap the geopolitical and strategic fruits, at least partially, as it strives for regional hegemony.”