The regional diplomacy of Syria

Here's a little mix of links under the theme "Diplomacy on Syria as a subset of, Iran-Saudi/UAE/Qatar, Sunni-Shia rivalries and the US-Saudi-Israel alliance", a riff off Roula Khalaf's good analysis piece in the FT, Riyadh plays its hand over Syria:

Jamal Khashoggi, the prominent Saudi commentator, sees Syria policy now as part of “the war against Iran”, one strand of a multifaceted battle that includes Saudi support for the European oil embargo and western financial restrictions on the Islamic republic. Amid growing confidence that the kingdom has escaped the winds of change sweeping through the region, he adds, the attitude in Riyadh is “let’s get the most” out of the situation.

Yet no one in Riyadh is under any illusion about the complexity of the crisis in Syria – a country with a delicate sectarian balance and a strategic position in both the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Sunni Arab states’ power struggle with Shia Iran. The conflict on the ground, moreover, has become increasingly militarised as defectors challenge Mr Assad’s security forces, and the government loses control of parts of the country.

Saudi Arabia has now given fresh ammunition to western allies at the UN Security Council to push back against Russia, which has so far blocked action. The Arab League is asking the Security Council to adopt a peace plan that calls on Mr Assad to give powers to a vice-president and form a national unity government.

The rest of the links:

[Thanks, PM]