When the ground is ready to burn, a small spark might be enough to start a fire.
Dominoes, the game presented to Chinese emperor Hui Tsung in the 12th century, traveled slowly before it finally reached the Middle East. These days, however, it appears to be the game of the hour – starting in Tunisia and Egypt, cascading through Yemen, Libya and Bahrain, and now in Syria.
The Middle East’s reality, however, is not a game, but a struggle for survival. Like the old emperors of China, the remaining old guards – the voices of the past – are desperately fighting against their own people, who seek a different future. And the voices of the past appear clearly aligned. It was Syrian Air Force pilots who were flying some of the MiG fighter jets ordered to attack rebel-held towns in Libya. An official Syrian funeral for one of them, killed fulfilling his “duty,” took place in Damascus against the backdrop of the anti-Syrian demonstration there. Turkey recently stopped two Iranian planes for “routine inspection,” only to find rocket launchers, mortars and automatic rifles intended to rearm Assad’s security forces and his Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. Assad, according to opposition sources, has approved the deployment of hundreds of fighters to Libya, as well as air and anti-tank munitions to Gaddafi. There were reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has been seen working alongside the Syrian military to curtail the demonstrations. The Iranian assistance might have contributed to the increasing brutality of the Syrian security forces who managed to kill 50 more demonstrators this last weekend. But it did not stop the masses, about 500,000 of whom marched in about nine Syrian cities this past weekend. Continue reading