by Andrew Tabler, Special to CNN
Instability in Syria has substantial consequences for Iran, Israel, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Lebanon among others. Here's how those countries are looking at Syria:
Iran – Tehran is very worried. Syria gives its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, "strategic depth" by serving as a key supplier of weapons. Chaos in Syria will make the regime of Bashar al-Assad regime more dependent on Iran. But in the end, Tehran is worried a Sunni-led government inimical to its interests will arise in Damascus – something that would stress and then likely break the “resistance axis” of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.
Israel – Israel is worried that the protests sweeping Syria will lead to chaos and possibly civil war in Syria. The Assad regime has kept the border with Israel quiet for over 40 years. But Israel also sees opportunity in the protests to pressure and break the "resistance axis".
The United States – The regime’s reaction to the protests have shifted Washington’s previous policy of “principled engagement” to a more confrontational approach driven by events on the ground. Last Friday’s protests and death tolls were a watershed event – not only were the 103 killed the highest number killed so far in Syria, it’s the highest single day death toll in the entire “Arab Spring” outside Libya. The United States is preparing for all eventualities.
Saudi Arabia – This is an interesting case. Syria supported Saudi Arabia’s intervention into Bahrain to support its Saudi-backed Sunni government against its Shia majority. This angered Syria’s ally, Iran. But at the same time, Al Arabiyya Television, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, has covered the Syrian protests critically from the beginning, something that has led to a backlash against Riyadh in the Syrian media.
Lebanon – The Lebanese government yesterday helped block action at the UN Security Council against Damascus. But many in Lebanon see development in Syria as an opportunity to change that country’s heavy handed policies with Lebanon. There are also many who are worried, however, that instability in Syria could spill over the border, setting off Lebanon’s delicate sectarian system.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Andrew Tabler.