The Syria Game of Thrones: Turkey vs. Iran vs. the Saudis in Battle to Shape a Rebellion's Outcome

(TIME) Tony Karon - Assad casts himself as the protector of Allawites and Christians. The region has divided on that basis, with Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen - countries with significant Shi'ite populations, and in the case of Iraq, substantial Iranian influence - having declined to back the Arab League suspension of Syria. Also, many key leaders of Christian communities in other Arab countries have come out in support of Assad. Assad can also count on solid backing from Russia, because Syria provides the Russian navy's only Mediterranean port, and also from Iran, for which Syria has been the key Arab ally. But other regional players are raising their pressure on Damascus. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who once counted Assad as a personal friend, is now sending a message that the Syrian leader can't be trusted. "No one any longer expects [Assad's regime] to meet the expectations of the people and of the international community," he said Tuesday. Despite their common interest in tackling Assad, many Arab regimes don't like the idea of Turkish influence spreading in the region much more than they like the idea of Iranian influence.

2011-11-18 00:00:00

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