What if Tehran thinks Asad doesn’t have any chance to win?
Cracks over Iran’s support for Syria
Syrian protesters remained defiant. Despite harsh crackdown, massive non-violent protests continue all across the country. On the other hand, Colonel Gaddafi’s time in Libya appears to be coming to an end, following two other successful uprisings in the Arab world, and Ali Saleh dictator of Yemen has promised to step down in the coming days; now Syrian revolutionaries are more confident than ever-before.
In the midst of riots, president Bashar Al- Asad addressed the Parliament and promised democratic reforms.
Since then, “death toll surpasses 2900 and according to UN, including at least 100 children, killed by military and security forces since mass protests erupted in mid-March," as quoted by Kyung-wha Kang, deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Opposition forces say: “it is too late to accept any reforms from Assad”. Asad’s reform proposals are sham, he just wants to maintain power.
Commentators are providing reports of Iran’s support to Baath regime of Syria. Foreign Affairs website recently reported: “In addition to sharing weapons and surveillance tools, credible reports from Syrian refugees indicate that Tehran sent its own forces to Syria to quash the protests”
I have little doubt that Iran is trying to keep president Asad in power but what if Tehran thinks Asad doesn’t have a chance to win?
Bashar Al Assad's cartoon by Iranian cartoonist Nikahang Kosar
Now we know, Saudi king recalled his Syria envoy and condemned the killings. Kuwait and Bahrain have followed the Saudi example. "The pot calling the kettle black.” This is a sign that despotic regimes of the Persian Gulf region believe president Asad is not going to survive. With new sanctions by European Union and the ICC considering issuing International arrest warrant for Syrian authorities, little chance remains for the survival of this regime.
Iranian strategists are aware of basic rules of risk management. They are not going to put all their eggs in one basket. They are providing weapons to Syrian regime on the one hand, and on the other asking authorities to respect the people’s will.
Recently Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s foreign affairs minister was calling on the government in Damascus to listen to the people's "legitimate demands.” The comments by Salehi were the first such remarks from Iran since the beginning of the five-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Mohammad Javaad Akbarein” Iranian commentator suggests Tehran’s call for reforms in Syria means international community should forget about regime's harsh crackdown on protesters and accept “reforms”. Iran wants to convince western powers that demanding reforms are the most viable option for western powers.
Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution recommending sanctions against Syria.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported in September, that representatives of the Islamic Republic recently met with Syrian opposition figures in a European capital. The Iranian officials were reportedly trying to assess whether opposition figures are amenable to the current government staying in power, should it institute long-demanded reforms, or whether Assad's ouster would be the only acceptable outcome.
Opposition forces finally established National Council and announced it at a news conference in Istanbul. This is a giant step forward for deeply fragmented opposition groups in which Islamists and secular factions suffer from distrust.
“Prominent Syrian opposition figure Bourhan Ghalioun, who read out the founding statement of the SNC at the news conference in Istanbul, accused the regime of fomenting sectarian strife in Syria to maintain its grip on power. “I think that this (Assad) regime has completely lost the world’s trust,” he said. “The world is waiting for a united Syrian (opposition) that can provide the alternative to this regime, so that they can recognize it,” he added.”
Sadegh Kharazi senior Iranian diplomat and former Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, who owns the website of “Iranian diplomacy” published an article recently, where he claims: “If Syrian regime collapses Iran is not a lose." The writer alluded that according to sources Iranian diplomats have held meetings with Syrian opposition figures. According to this report Iran has two goals, “to maintain contact with Syrian opposition in order to know who they are and what their demands are; and finally what are their interests are.” Writer suggests: “Possibly Iran will be able to mediate between opposition and Asad’s regime to have control over the crises”.
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