Syria a flashpoint for World War III as Shia-Sunni rift widens?
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Internally, Basher al-Assad is supported by army, the intelligence service and the Ba'athists. A large number of wealthy businessmen are also on Assad's side. In addition, the 12 per cent Alawite population also backs the regime.
- 3 of 8IranIn the outside world, Iran is the biggest and most vocal supporter of Assad because of ideological, political and geographical reasons.For Iran, Syria provides a direct access to Hizbollah- its main fighting force that it needs to tackle the Israeli nation. The militant group based in Lebanon is an important deterrence against Israel.
- 4 of 8LebanonLebanon is the only outside country that is directly involved in the conflict, both on humanitarian ground as well as on military front. As many as 3,000-5,000 Hezbollah active fighters are fighting inside the Syrian territory. Lebanon is also providing shelter to millions of refugees who have fled Syria after the war broke out.
- 5 of 8TurkeyTurkey is trying its best to stay away from the conflict. An involvement would prove fatal for this liberal and democratic nation of Europe. Though attempts have been made to draw the nation into the conflict, Turkey has managed to defend its border and prevented the crisis from spilling over.
- 6 of 8RussiaRussia has continuously provided political and moral support to Basher al-Assad. Recently, the Syrian regime was supplied with S-300 ballistic missiles by Russian government. Russia is unlikely to tolerate western interference in the region and already has 13 warships in the region. Russia is backed by China, at least on the political front, because of its interest in regions oil and gas.The rebel fighters are loose fractions of mercenary fighters from all across the globe. The main and the most ferocious is the Jabhat al-Nusra, which is allied with al-Qaeda.The group has received financial and military aid from Sunni-dominated countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
- 7 of 8The neighbouring countries are weary that the conflict would spill-over into their region and destabilise the security of the entire region.Iran will come in the firing line of Israel, if Assad's regime falls. The country with more than 80 per cent Shia population needs Assad to maintain the balance of power in the region.Israel has his hands full, a continuing conflict with Palestine, Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and a fragmented Syria would pose a serious threat to the nation.
- 8 of 8Iraq with thousands of kilometers of porous border with Syria would be a key player in the future of the conflict. The region witnessed its deadliest month in May when more than 1,000 people perished in the conflict. The Shia-Sunni divide is more evident in Iraq, than ever before. The majority Sunni nation has large population of pro-Shia Kurdish people and is ruled by a Shia government.As the conflict draws closer to the point of no return, the blur lines of battle are becoming prominent. Will the conflict in Syria take a large shape of conflict between two ideologies?