The local and international relations between different political forces are always controlled by power centres. States are no longer the only international political entities; today, large corporations and international non-governmental organisations—usually backed by powerful countries—also have international influence because of their huge financial capabilities, some of which easily exceed numerous countries’ budgets and GDPs. This gain of influence always comes in favour of larger entities and on the expense of smaller entities.
The methods employed by a certain political force to influence others do not necessarily cause the same effect if it was used by another. The impact of new mass media differs according to the number of its users, the nature and awareness of societies, the knowledge and ability of those users to check the credibility of information, and the strength of the forces using the media.
There is no political force or method with absolute influence on a certain society, as it is always controlled by the interaction between various forces and the internal situation.
For instance, in a society witnessing a state of permanent conflict, strong political forces often attract smaller and less influential ones so that the former can dominate and control. It is clear in the current Egyptian parliament that the dominant bloc has attracted a number of Free Egyptians Party members due to internal division, caused by changing the agreed upon positions before entering parliament in favour of the powerful parliamentary bloc.
This political game is a frequent occurrence in history.
In the case of the Egyptian parliament, the presence of a large force in it requires the fragmentation of smaller forces, unless they grow and form a strong opposition to the current dominating force led by the speaker of parliament Ali Abdul Aal. The dominant force always tries to keep the “25-30 Coalition” as a small group in number by restraining them from time to time—until they get tired.
The same happens on the international level. The situation in Syria is only a proxy war. Saudi Arabia has always been in a strong conflict with Iran, both of which want to spread their influence on the region; with Saudi Arabia blaming Bashar Al-Assad for the Iranian presence in Syria. From its side, Iran wants to extend its political influence through forming an alliance of the Shiite faction in the region. This Iranian-Saudi conflict will continue as long as the national division in the Middle East exists. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the main players in that game. Iran supports Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, and the Iraqi government; Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, supports Sunni forces in Lebanon and Syria, as well as its permanent ally Jordan.
If we look carefully at such political positions, we will understand the importance of national unity and the integration of minorities. The problems that emerged in Syria came as a result of internal division, outrage of many Syrian people, and political oppression.
It is expected that Russia and Turkey will propose a national reconciliation that achieves their interests, as Russia aims to maintain its presence in the Mediterranean Sea, and Turkey wants to avoid any threats of the Kurdish presence in northern Syria. But would this reconciliation solve the Syrian crisis? I believe the country’s problems will remain unsolved; however, there will be a temporary truce between most parties, until new problems emerge.
Saudi Arabia and Iran should hold long-term talks to reach a deal that will protect both their interests. Further conflict between the two nations will increase the current crisis and harm the interests of both countries, perhaps even extending to other parties in the region.
Sharif Rizk Researcher in International Relations