The Druze

The Druze have a tougher time since they do not have a strategic boundary with a friendly country, as do the Kurds. Nevertheless, the Druze are at a historical turning point. They have given their loyalty to the Syrian regime, with the Golani Druze showing special devotion fueled largely by fear that some day the Golan would be returned to Syria.

Now, however, they see the Assad regime in trouble. At this point their loyalty must be questioned. Would a Sunni Islamist regime be so kind to them? On the one hand, the Druze have served not with the rebels, but with the regime. Second, when all is said and done the Druze are infidels, and even worse, apostates, as they were Muslims centuries ago. Of course, the Druze still in Syria will claim their devotion to the Sunni Islamist regime in the hope of not being massacred.

Druze from the Golan have asked Israeli authorities about bringing in refugees from Syria. Might persecuted Druze take Israeli citizenship and take the step of joining their fate as individuals or collectively with Israel, as their cousins across the border did in 1948?

Iran

Obviously, if the regime loses in Syria that will weaken Iran. But there’s something more here — if Iran loses the civil war, they lose any chance of Tehran bidding for Arab hegemony, which would be futile because the split between Sunni and Shia is so bloody and passionate.

Of course, if Iran wins the bitterness has the same effect. The dominant conflict in the region is now the Sunni-Shia one.

With Middle East hegemony out of Iran’s reach, Iran has less reason to threaten Israel or to consider using nuclear weapons against it. Why would Tehran do so when it will not impress the Arabs anyway, and while Tehran is in the middle of an all-out battle with the Sunni Arabs?

The Christians

While Israel only has about a two percent Christian minority (about 150,000 people), there seems to be some change. A priest and a young woman have spoken for support despite harassment, and an Arab Christian party is forming. These will probably not catch on with large numbers of people, but with the conflict against Israel being joined by the conflict against Christian Arabs — including real intimidation of Christians on the West Bank by Muslims — this must have some effect.

This has been added to by a war on Christians in Egypt (Copts will be big targets in the coming Islamist insurgency, and the new government won’t provide much protection), Syria, Iraq, and the Gaza Strip. Where else do Christians have a safe haven in he region besides Israel?

Finally, Syria has done something momentous in regional terms. It has broken the myth of the “Israel card,” or of “linkage,” the idea that the “Arab-Israeli conflict” (perhaps we should start putting it in quotation marks) is the prime problem, passionate priority, and always the key to solving the Middle East.You can’t still argue that an Arab ruler can make political capital by blaming Israel, or that solving the Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian conflict will fix everything in the region.

Given the peculiarities of Western diplomacy, this doesn’t seem to put too much of a dent in “linkage” — lots of people in the West believe this idea. Surely it must be fewer, though still too widespread due to misinformation, diplomatic interests, and misunderstanding of the Middle East.