Maintaining an autonomous foreign policy comes with the steepest of prices: Case of Syria in last 4 decades
Syria during the reign of late Hafiz Assad undertook a consistent strategy to master the autonomy in its foreign policies, against all odds.
Before Hafez Assad military coup in 1972, Syria witnessed a succession of coups.
The people in Damascus knew that a coup is being prepared when the Saudis left the country: The monarchy in Saudi Arabia was the financial deep pocket for every military coup.
It is documented that the first monarch Ibn Saud wrote in his testament to his descendants:
1. Egypt is the head of the Arab World. Decapitate Egypt.
2. Syria is the heart of the Arab World: Plunge a dagger in this heart
3. Syria must never link with Iraq.
Obey these orders and the monarchy will survive and strive. (Yemen was still under British dominion)
Hafez was able to sustain this strategy after the death of the Arab Leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970, whom no Arabic leader could circumvent without terrible repercussions to his regime.
In order for an autonomous Syria to bear fruit, it was necessary and indispensable to focus on the moot flank which was Lebanon: Lebanon was the main hub for all kinds of undercover foreign machinations to destabilize the Middle-East.
After the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Lebanon was wide open to the preparation of all kinds of foreign plans to wreck havoc in the Orient.
By 1972, the Palestinian Organization Fateh of Yasser Arafat was the powerbroker in Lebanese politics and matched the Lebanese army military might. Fateh was ousted from Jordan and they settled in the Arkoub region in south Lebanon before they moved their headquarters to Beirut.
Arafat feared Hafez most and he did his best to find a balance between satisfying Hafez dictate and keep the flow of financial and political supports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq of Saddam and Egypt.
All the political manoeuvring of Hafez to firmly bring Arafat under his wing failed. Hafez then created a parallel military Palestinian wing (The thunderstorm) under the umbrella of Fateh (Al Sa3ikat) and used this branch to squeeze Arafat for political concessions.
It is related that most of the Palestinian heavy weapons were stashed in Sa3ikat warehouses, and that is why Arafat could not kill the emerging civil war in Lebanon swiftly and in its bud.
Direct interference in Lebanon was becoming an urgent matter and the USA provided the Green Light to Hafez to control Lebanon for over 3 decades.
The funny part is that Hafez never asked any financial aid or support from the successive US governments in order to maintain his autonomy.
In order to safeguard Syria from foreign interventions, particularly military wars that he is not prepared for, Hafez obliged the Turkish government to hand over the Kurdish/Turkish resistance leader Abdullah Ocalan. He managed not to let the US get involve in Syria internal affairs and negotiate better term for the distribution of the Euphrates River.
The successor of Hafiz, his son Bashar opted to try an alternative policy of openness to the western nations since 2001. The globalization process was very tempting to allow many close relatives to the family of Assad to monopolize many State institutions and trafficking.
Soon the Syrian regime was under heavy pressures from the USA and France to support their foreign policies.
During Hafiz, Syria played skilfully the political navigation of regional game of influences between the rising Khomeini Iranian Islamic State and the neighboring Arabic States.
Thus, Hafiz allowed that Hezbollah remains the main resistance force in Lebanon against the Israeli occupier while sustaining the standing political power of Nabih Berry (current Parliament chief), leader of the Shi3a AMAL militia.
When the western powers, backed by Turkey, decided to destabilize Syria, Iran was already firmly implanted in Syria and Lebanon and had managed to organize and finance a powerful resistance movement in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa valley.
It is thanks to Iran and Hezbollah, backed by Russia and China, that the regime in Syria was able to withstand the onslaught of the civil war for the 5th year.
The irony is Israel failed to take advantage politically in this period.
Instead of opening political negotiations, Israel kept opting for pre-emptive wars in Lebanon and Gaza and failed miserably, while the resistance forces increased its firepower and political standing.