Sunday, January 8, 2017

How Iran Got Stuck in the Syria Quagmire - Heshmat Alavi

by Heshmat Alavi

Iran’s ultimate objective is to completely restructure the region’s entire fabric

Iran, known for its unbridled sectarian meddling in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, is currently facing an unwanted quagmire and dead-end in the Levant. We cannot limit Iran’s role and its meddling across the Middle East to 2016 alone. There is an ongoing war in the region, resulting from Iran’s escalating interventions.

Iran’s ultimate objective is to completely restructure the region’s entire fabric, pursuing a truly destructive and very dangerous policy in this regard. The war in Syria is one of the pillars of this initiative, also continuing in Iraq and Lebanon.

Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, known for his close relations with Tehran, was the byproduct of Iran’s policies in that country. Iraq under Maliki back in 2010 was oppressing the Sunni community, leading to a major revolt by this vital sector of Mesopotamia. Iraq continues to suffer from such atrocities.

Iran sustained its warmongering and expansionist ambitions in lands far away, such as Yemen. This initiative is also facing major difficulties, with Oman -- known for its warm relations with Iran -- recently joining the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Shiite Houthis in Yemen.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sought to deliver serious blows to Saudi Arabia, using the war in Yemen as the necessary medium. However, Yemen cannot and will not remain the Houthis’ hostage, and this country will not witness a repeat of the Hizb'allah scenario in Lebanon.

The Syria Swamp

Syria, despite the heavy Iranian influence, is now becoming a colossal challenge for Tehran. As U.S. President Barack Obama failed to live up to expectations, Russia and Turkey have taken the helm, sidelining Iran as a result.

While Syria comprises the backbone of Iran’s expansionist adventure in the region, one cannot truly claim Tehran has made significant advances. The Aleppo war made it clear Iran’s aim is to occupy Syria. There is no Assad army in Syria and Iran-backed Shiite militia groups are rampant across the country.

By falling to Russia’s knees to intervene in Syria, Iran accepted the harsh reality of Assad no longer governing what is left of the country.

Currently Iran is no longer considered Russia’s partner in Syria. Moscow has its own interests, not necessarily in line with those of Tehran.

The Free Syrian Army, a major wing of the Syrian opposition, suspended its participation in the Astana negotiations in response to continuous military attacks by Iran and Assad against the Wadi Barda region near Damascus.

This has prompted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to demand that Iran rein in the Shiite militias and Assad from violating the so-called ceasefire.

“Turkey is working with Russia on the question of sanctions for those who violate the ceasefire deal, which was brokered by Ankara and Moscow,” Reuters reported citing Cavusoglu.

This is a vivid show of how Iran has been sidelined in Syria. It is quite obvious that Iran has no intention of allowing a political solution evolve and reach tangible results in Syria. Iran thrives on lasting crises and this is the mullahs’ very policy to maintain Assad as their puppet in Damascus.

Tehran is furious over the fact that Russia and Turkey signed an agreement with a variety of armed Syrian opposition groups, inviting them to the Astana talks. To add insult to injury, Ankara has made demands “requiring all foreign forces to withdraw from Syria, before a diplomatic solution is reached or even discussed.”

Of course, Iran giving in to such demands is highly unlikely after feeling shelved in the wake of the recent Ankara/Moscow initiative. It has, is and always will be in Iran’s nature a continued desire and need to inflame the entire region in turmoil. This is a vital lifeline for Iran.

Following close to six years of disastrous warfare, nearly half a million innocent Syrians killed and more than 11 million displaced, it is high time to reach a final and lasting solution.

“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main NCRI member, has played a pivotal role in alerting the global community of Iran’s human rights violations, terrorism, and meddling across the region, and the mullahs’ clandestine nuclear weapons drive. These revelations have further plunged Iran into its current crises.

After decades of appeasement by the West have proven a dismal failure, Tehran must be approached by a determined and firm international community.

Heshmat Alavi


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