Just how transformative the Iraq war could turn out to be for the wider region was impressed on me and my colleagues on a recent visit to Syria and Lebanon.
Given their own multi-sectarian political system, the Lebanese believe they know a thing or two about how to manage diversity within a pluralistic political system, but no one seems interested in the lessons to be learned from the experience of Lebanon. Perhaps this is because Lebanon did descend into civil war, or because it was rescued in part by Syrian intervention, an inﬂuence that has now become pervasive.
The Syrians we talked to were mostly of the Arab nationalist school of thought who regard the United States intervention in Iraq as an affront to their pride as well as that of Iraqis. Their worldview is informed by Syria’s championship of the Arab cause, be it against Israel or US inﬂuence in the region.