Of all the uprisings underway in the Middle East, none has the immediate potential to tilt the regional balance of power to the degree that Syria's does. Under the Assad dynasty, Damascus has played a pivotal role in determining the relative strength of rival powers. Now, with the government of President Bashar al-Assad under pressure from its own people and with the brutality of the regime's repression raising a popular outcry throughout the world, the principal powers in the Middle East are maneuvering to solidify their positions and reinforce their claim to regional leadership.
Mideast powers are moving their chess pieces on the board, issuing scathing diplomatic statements, recalling ambassadors, sending envoys and doing what it takes to emerge as the winner of this high-stakes contest.
Damascus has long functioned as something of a regional fulcrum, helping to set the political and strategic balance of the Middle East. Its relationship with Tehran helped anchor Iran as a regional power, counterbalancing other players and helping Iran project power beyond its borders.