Vatican in bid to resolve Syria crisis as U.S. prepares to strike deal with Iran

By Antoine Ghattas Saab
The Daily Star, Lebanon

The Vatican is engaged in an attempt to resolve the nine-month-old crisis in Syria, while the United States is preparing to strike a deal with Iran to secure its vital interests in the region following its withdrawal from Iraq, according to Western diplomatic sources.

“The U.S. is preparing to conclude a deal with Iran through which it can secure its vital and strategic interests in the region, especially with regard to supplying it with oil by the Iranian side,” a Western envoy told The Daily Star.

“This deal carries with it an agreement on a host of sensitive points that are a bone of contention between the two sides. The official announcement on ending the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq is expected to be a starting point for a scenario to redraw the Middle East map in order to cope with the historic structural changes in a number of Arab countries,” he said.

Western sources say attention might be focused early in 2012 on Iraq, which will witness internal sectarian and confessional struggles in preparation for its partitioning into three mini-states: a Sunni, a Shiite and a Kurdish mini-state.

This escalatory trend is expected to set off a spate of bombings targeting religious leaders or mosques of various sects in an attempt to incite strife and facilitate the process of dismembering Iraq, the sources said.

They said this drawn-up plan might give the Americans a pretext to prove to the world that Iraq cannot enjoy stability without a U.S. military presence.

In a divided Iraq, Iran would maintain control over a Shiite mini-state that would serve as an ideological extension of the Islamic Republic, although the seminary in Najaf could remain outside this entity, as it does not embrace Tehran’s concept of clerical rule. Such a break-up is likely to arouse the ire of Turkey, which does not enjoy warm ties with Iran over the situation in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently said in Washington that the real danger facing his country lies in Turkish interference, warning that the Turkish model does not suit the Arab world. This stance reflects a tacit Turkish-Iranian struggle that could soon erupt, probably from Syria, where it is possible to incite Kurdish communities on the Syrian-Turkish border. As this regional tug-of-war plays itself out, a significant role will be played by the Vatican to resolve the Syrian crisis, according to the Western ambassador.

On behalf of the Holy See, clergymen of various ranks have been traveling to Syria to sound out the views of officials in Damascus about the possibility of a solution calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to stay in power for a full year until presidential elections are held, in which Assad promises not to run but can support any candidate loyal to him, the ambassador said.

Meanwhile, the turbulence in the region on various fronts requires internal Lebanese moves to close ranks and unify the government’s ranks to ward off dangers coming from beyond the border.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

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