As the war in Syria moves into a third year, there are serious concerns that the violence will spread throughout the Middle East. No one seems to have the answer how to bring the war to an end, but now it appears the Saudis are going to try.
When Sunni tribes in Syria make appeals for protection from the brutality of the Al-Assad regime, their Sunni kinsmen in the Gulf States of Saudia Arabia and Qatar have a hard time ignoring them. The blood ties are broad and deep; moreover, the appeals came at an opportune moment for Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is troubled by the "Shia Crescent" that has extended from Iran through Iraq, into Syria and to the Mediterranean shores of Lebanon. The uprising in Syria created an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to use tribal bonds to destroy the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad. His fall would break the Shia (read as, Iranian) chain of power through the region and begin the process of pushing back its influence. The Gulf States have their own potentially volatile Shia minorities to worry about--to the Gulf States, the more limitations on Iranian influence, the better.
With Al-Assad driven out, the Saudi-based, fundamentalist Wahhabi Sect that had been established among the Syrian tribes can, the reasoning goes, secure the continuation of Sunni domination there. That would protect the security of the Kingdom and the wealth and power of all of the other rulers along the Gulf.
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Qatar agrees with the Saudis that Al-Assad has to be removed, but has a much less religiously radical vision for Syria's future. The successor regime that Qatar envisions would be a government under the leadership of the social elite that would bring a modern government and economy to the country.