By Gary C. Gambill, contributor to FPRI
Reviewed by Norvell DeAtkine
As Gary Gambill puts it, “the growing infusion of Iranian-backed Lebanese and Iraqi Shiite fighters into the Syrian civil war is causing some veteran pundits to panic.” After two years of forecasting the ultimate demise of the Assad regime, many of these pundits have taken fright at the recent modest gains of the Assad regime.
The theme of the article, however, is an argument that these fears are unfounded. He writes that the 5-to-1 demographic advantage of Syrian Sunni to the Alawi supporters of the Assad regime and the support of the Sunni countries, such as the Gulf nations, Turkey, and most of the rest of the world, far outweigh the support of Iran and Russia. He sees the Hezbollah involvement in the fighting as a short-term event because the Lebanese Shi’a will increasingly view the Syrian war as not cogent to their objectives, particularly since they have reportedly lost a number of fighters. He also sees the Hamas severance with the Tehran regime as a blow to Iranian aspirations in the region.
In the opinion of the reviewer, Gambill makes a good point concerning the abrupt reversal of expert opinion, but his optimism concerning the outcome is misplaced. For every Hezbollah fighter who becomes disenchanted with the war there will be an equal or greater number of Islamist fighters flowing into Syria from all over the world. Having obtained all the loot possible and a red badge of courage to show the girls back home, they will depart.
Moreover, while the West and Sunni opponents of the Assad government have far greater numbers and more economic clout, they lack the essential ingredient to prevail. Russia, Iran, and the Alawi community have the will. The West does not.