By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
Syria was, and still is, a victim of Iran. Throughout the Assad era, both the father and the son have turned Damascus into another Iranian playing card in the region. Today, even after nearly a year of the Syrian revolution, Syria may have fallen victim to Iran once again. Here one might ask; how?
Despite the magnitude of the crimes committed by the Assad regime against the Syrians, which bear all the hallmarks of “crimes against humanity,” the international community is unable to do anything. Even the strong international statements, and Obama’s recent statement about Assad’s days being numbered, have no tangible effect on the ground. The international community was even unable to do anything when the tyrant of Damascus refused the Red Cross entry into Baba Amro, whilst it has become clear that the Assad regime is simply stalling to gain more time in order to clear the evidence of the crimes it has committed there.
Well, what does Iran have to do with all this? The link becomes clear when we ask Washington: Why does the Obama administration delay in taking practical steps to protect the Syrians, such as creating a genuine international coalition against the tyrant Assad? The answer is that everyone in Washington is now busy with something else, namely: Will Israel strike Iran? In Washington there are those who believe that the Syrian crisis must be solved along the same lines as in Yemen, and that Moscow should undertake this role just as Saudi Arabia did in Yemen. Hence, everyone has been waiting for the presidential election of Vladimir Putin because they believe there are signs that a change may now occur in the Russian position. Thus the efforts of America, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others now rely on Moscow to oust Assad from power, because there are those in Washington who believe that foreign intervention, at present, could increase the number of casualties in Syria! Therefore, it is clear that Washington’s focus is now on Iran, not Syria, especially with Netanyahu’s visit to the United States.
There is also a school of thought that argues Syria’s crisis could be alleviated if Iran is struck first, i.e. the focus would then be on the bigger picture. Here it is important to note, especially with Netanyahu’s visit, that the Washington Post recently published an article reporting that Tehran is supplying Assad with heavy weaponry. Thus, (according to those in favor of such an argument) in the event of a military strike targeting Iran, the Assad regime would be weakened politically and thus its overthrow would be guaranteed at the lowest possible cost. What is most likely is that Iran has now become the focal point for Washington, behind Israel of course, which has been exerting pressure upon the United States in this regard. This issue is now more pressing than what the tyrant of Damascus is doing to the unarmed Syrians, especially if we remember that Iran comes before Assad, the tyrant comes before Hezbollah, and so on. Indeed, some in Washington believe that a strike to the head, i.e. Iran, would mean an end to all the parties below, including Assad.
However, this means that the suffering of the Syrians will continue in the face of Assad’s crimes that show no signs of abating; we see him doing so in Al-Rastan today. Therefore, there must now be a genuine Arab-Turkish stance, led by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This must go beyond mere statements and condemnations in order to put an end to the suffering of the Syrians who have become a victim of Iran once again, in light of international calculations and the order of priorities, most notably America’s, due to Israeli pressure.
— The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]