Moreover, Riyadh in 2013 saw her superpower patron, America, back away from an attack on Syria, negotiate in secret with Iran, and begin talks with the Ayatollah's regime on limitations to its nuclear program -- in return for a lifting of U.S. sanctions.
To the Saudis, what appears to be an emerging detente between Tehran and Washington looms as a strategic disaster.
From Israel's vantage point, the overthrow of Assad would mean the isolation of Hezbollah, which would no longer receive weapons from a Syrian regime that Hezbollah had fought to keep out of power.
But what about America's point of view?
"Sooner or later," The Washington Post writes, "the United States will have to face the threat to its vital interests emerging across the Levant."
But, with due respect, there are no U.S. "vital interests" in the Levant.
For the first 150 years of our existence as a nation, the Levant was ruled by Ottoman Turks, and then by the British and the French under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.
What difference did it make to us who ruled Damascus or Beirut?
The vital interest America has in that region is to keep the oil flowing out of the Gulf, upon which the global economy depends.
While a victory for the rebels might fit well with the agendas of Riyadh and Tel Aviv, it might also mean a massacre of Alawites and a mass exodus of Christians. At best, it would bring about a regime along the lines of the Muslim Brotherhood government that lately ruled in Cairo. At worst, it could bring to power a regime dominated by Sunni jihadists.
The greatest threat to U.S. interests there is not autocrats, Sunni or Shia, interested in getting rich, but radicals with the mindset of suicide bombers taking over a state and spreading revolution down the Gulf.
War is the clear and present danger, and peace the necessary condition of securing those interests.
The defeat of ISIS in Anbar and Syria and peace in the region should be our primary goal. And if Iran is willing to assist Damascus and Baghdad in defeating al-Qaida, Iran should be treated as a temporary ally in a common cause.
After all, FDR and Truman got on famously with "good old Joe" Stalin.
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