Saturday 18 August 2012
Last Update 20 August 2012 7:38 am
Iranian diplomacy is at work with full force to defend and protect Assad who is under threat from the Free Syrian Army. In this background, we see the visit of Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security, to Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad. Jalili confirmed to Assad that the latter's downfall was very likely and that Tehran had put a great deal of effort to help Assad survive. He also told him that Tehran had tried to open a back channel communication with Western countries but to no avail. Jalili said that Iran was feeling the heat and that Ali Khamenei has asked his men to get ready for war.
In fact, Tehran does not care about Assad. Its policies vis-à-vis Syria are aimed at realizing Iranian interests. It fears that Assad's fall will have consequences on the Iranian security and will be a strategic loss and so Tehran pushes Assad to confront Turkey, clash with Jordan and create trouble in Lebanon.
Jalili presented Assad with an urgent Iranian road map as a response to the awaited Makkah declaration. The content of the Iranian road map is the holding of presidential elections in 2014 without the participation of Assad himself. According to the plan, Assad will delegate his power to his deputy and a national government made of the regime and the opposition will be formed to prepare for the next presidential elections. The regime can nominate a president and so can the opposition. The road map suggests the establishment of a fund to reconstruct Syrian destroyed infrastructure.
By all means, Assad is required to finish off the opposition in Aleppo. Jalili asked him to do this even if it entails using chemical gas! Jalili's ideas are based on a simple assumption: The one who controls the ground is free to adopt any option. And because the Iranian road map should be imposed, Assad needs to decide the battle of Aleppo before the meeting of the Security Council. Iran sought to arrange a series of meetings with other countries to assess the support for the Iranian initiative. Jalili said that Iran agreed with Russia that the representative of Russia at the United Nations would put Bahrain on the table during the meetings of the Security Council. This is meant to put pressure on the Gulf countries to stop supporting the Syrian revolution.
Iran's plan seeks to create crises in the region. It created one in Sinai to convey a message to Israel, Hamas and Egypt. It is also working on igniting a crisis between Turkey and the PKK. It is hampering the release of the Saudi diplomat kidnapped in Yemen by using its relations with Al-Qaeda. Despite the massive reform undertaken by the king of Bahrain, Iran is urging it followers to trigger a wave of protests. Russia also intends to bring Bahrain issue on the Security Council agenda.
The Iranian plan is designed to preempt or offset the initiative of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation for Islamic solidarity and drive a wedge between Muslim countries. In other words, we have two initiatives: One led by Iran to uphold the regime in Damascus; and another one led by Riyadh and other Muslim countries to protect the Syrian people and to end daily massacres.
Jalili said that Assad's war against his people and the opposition is Iran's war against America. For this reason, Jalili said, Iran would never abandon Assad and always stand by him. The proof of the strong Iranian support for Assad is that some Iranian military officers and soldiers even became captives of Free Syrian Army. Many of the hostages are high-ranking officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Iran is still in denial as it insists that the captive soldiers were visiting religious sites in Syria.
Iran says Syrian protesters are supported by the American CIA and Gulf states and that these protests serve Israel's objectives in the region. This statement comes despite Iran's claim that it has invited the Syrian opposition for a meeting in Tehran to discuss a political solution to the Syria crisis.
This diplomatic race comes at a critical time for the Syrian regime and amid Iranian security misgivings of a possible outbreak of protests within Iran. Information suggests that even if Assad uses massive force he will not survive and the crisis is getting worse and defection is on the increase. In addition to that there is the economic crisis. Hezbollah is also afraid of the situation after the Syrian plan to create problem in Lebanon was exposed. Therefore, I wonder on what Iran is betting?
Moreover, how can anyone justify supporting Assad at the expense of dignity and freedom of the Syrian people? Interestingly, Iran cannot claim itself to be the champion of resistance against imperialism and Zionism as it employed all its tools to target the Iraqi resistance.
Now, Iran is exposed and there is no room for it to hide behind diplomacy. We wonder what kind of law enables Russia to veto the Security Council resolution at a time when Syrian people are being massacred?
Today, the moral responsibility of any state is to respect its citizens' aspirations before adhering to international laws. How can a leader respect a flimsy international law disregarding the aspirations of its own people? How can these states work against the human dignity and freedom of the Syrian people? This kind of attitude should be countered even if this entails working outside the framework of the Security Council.
That said, we are against external intervention regardless of its type and also against support to the killing machine in Syria. Much time has been wasted and Lakhdar Brahimi is not expected to do any better than his predecessor Kofi Annan in resolving the Syrian crisis. Now it is time for real concession after the battle in Aleppo where one side is equipped with Russian arms and supported by Iranian forces and the other side only carry light weapons but is determined to bring about change regardless of the price it has to pay.
Iran's initiative is too weak and too late. Iranian youths are fighting in support of Assad. Iran erroneously bases its stand vis-a-vis Syria on the pretext of fighting against the West. For how many years have Syrians been tormented and forced to leave their country on the flimsy ground that they mounted resistance? Finally, the statement issued by two Arab Shiite thinkers, Hani Fahs and Mohammed Ali Al-Amin, is worth mentioning. Both thinkers are independent and do not follow the Iranian position. They have openly declared their support for the Syrian people and their opposition to the Iranian and Hezbollah positions. This will only reinforce the rational voice of the Shiite Arabs and help them restore the initiative after the Iranian control in the name of resistance and Vilayat Al-Faqih.