Thursday, January 3, 2013

Will Iran take the Morsi line on Syria?

 By Paul Iddon

Why Tehran may switch sides in the destructive Syrian Civil War. 

Mohammed Morsi.

It's a bad sign when one grows tired of repeating something to the point that they sound like a broken record. I confess to bringing up on far too many occasions Barack Obama's past relativistic apologetic attitude towards the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt when it was a 'stalwart ally' of the United States in the region.

After reaching out to the Arab world whilst being hosted by the autocrat in Cairo Obama offered, among other things, an extended arm to the regime in Damascus offering to mend broken bridges and even going as far as proposing the establishment of a U.S embassy in Syria. Among those making excuses, it was fashionable for a time, for the Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad was the magazine Vogue which went to considerable length to paint Syria's first family as admirable peace-loving and heartfelt democrats.

On a related note our friend Flynt Leverett seems to be more set on apologizing for the authoritarian nature of the regime in Tehran these days than he is for exculpating and relativizing Assad's rule -- which was what took up his time when that regime was assassinating the main advocates of secular and civil democratic society in Lebanon back in 2005.

But like Iran, “under the great leadership of the Shah”, Egypt went from a stalwart “force for stability” (how such euphemistic phrases make one cringe) in the region to a country engulfed by enthusiastic revolutionary fervour. Whilst two years on the fate of Egypt is still uncertain and hard to gauge (one can be excused for being highly cynical) one was still nonetheless inspired by the courage and power the people exhibited in that 18-day stand off against the military in Tahrir Square.

Speaking to an anonymous Christian Syrian government official last year, while covering events in Syria for his magnificent book Revolt in Syria, Stephen Starr recalls pondering the nature of the Iran-Syria relationship. It didn't make sense to him. Iran is predominately Persian and Shia, not predominately Arab and Sunni like Syria he mused. The official agreed with the peculiar nature of the relationship adding the regime wanted to make overtures with Washington in recent years, but the latter didn't even want to talk until security issues were addressed. The Syrian official put the blame on the supposed power of the “Israel lobby”.

Therefore Syria in its staunch opposition to Israel and support for the Hezbollah in Lebanon found an ally in Tehran, albeit strictly for common “Realpolitik” means and not ideological ones. Tehran has given considerable support to its ally in Damascus. Therefore the Sunnis revolting against Assad don't constitute an “Islamic awakening” as did the Egyptian Revolution. Morsi has furthermore agreed with Tehran and blamed the unrest in Syria not on the repressive regime, but on conspiratorial foreign meddling from Tel Aviv and Washington. He also quite aptly vindicated Ayatollah Khameini and seeks closer ties with the Iranian theocracy and seeks to aid the oppressed of Palestine and Bahrain.

Well what he really said was irrelevant because the Iranian regime regulated censor replaced words he said at last Septembers non-aligned conference in Tehran with ones more favourable to their position. The term “Islamic awakening” wasn't mentioned. Morsi supports the Syrian people in their struggle against dictatorship and never said anything about the Shia majority in Bahrain (even though they warrant serious attention, but not for the reason the theocratic regime is focusing on it).

But when you proclaim your words to be infallible as well as your world outlook it can in all fairness very annoying when people say things that don't fully fit this world view. It can also be annoying when other nations don't want to align with your great and self-professed – in name only -- 'Islamic Republic'. So just report that they did.

It would be almost funny if it wasn't so serious. Yet even the rulers in Tehran, with their delusions of grandeur and general delusional perceptions of itself and the world, have become hesitant regarding its support for Assad. Several analysts and commentators are pondering what the regime is thinking and whether or not its stance on Syria will change in accordance with a potential rebel victory. Hence will Iran, in a desperate bid not to be relegated into total irrelevancy when it comes to regional affairs, change its horse in midstream and throw their lot in with a victorious opposition?

Hence take the Morsi line, which is that the Assad regime has no place in the future of the Syria state. Will the Syrian struggle therefore cease to be characterized in their propaganda outlets as a conspiratorial intervention by the CIA and the Zionists (or whichever one it happens to be 'this week') and instead become, as was the case in Egypt, an 'Islamic awakening'?

Many who support or see Assad as a tolerable 'force for stability', or believe the civil war to be a wholly covert U.S/Saudi sponsored initiative to sow chaos and instability in the country, point out the fundamentalist aspects of hefty branches of the opposition. These branches of the rebels have already even began to impose strict Sharia law on territory in the countryside around the city of Aleppo which they have captured. This may be a sign of things to come in Syria if the fundamentalists prevail over both Assad and the secular branches of the opposition they are currently fighting alongside.

Iran which is striving to have an influence in the revolutionary fervour in the region may very well switch allegiances and try and ingratiate itself with a Sunni regime that may rise to power from the devastation wrought by the civil war. This could be through the offering of aid and assistance in a bid to prevent such a fundamentalist regime from starting a war with Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon -- any new government or regime that comes after Assad, if he indeed falls or capitulates in the coming months or years, will doubtlessly try and exert its influence on Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia, which has proven in Bahrain and in its own kingdoms east that it will readily use repressive measures to clamp down on the Shia, would certainly like to see Hezbollah's power and interest in the region diminish. But unlike some of the more hardcore Sunni fundamentalists they are currently supporting in Syria the Saudi kingdom nevertheless doesn't perceive it to be in its regional interests to start a proxy war with the State of Israel. Whether or not the Iranian regime perceives further confrontation via proxy with Israel in the near future to be in its interest is debatable.

One could go into numerous 'what if' situations, but the idea of Iran making such a move under certain circumstances in order to retain some degree of influence isn't far-fetched, the regime has proven with its policies and alliances that there are few depths to which it will not sink to.


Anonymous said...

unlike the USA as the global super power and standard bearer of all things freedom , iran has no choice but to back syria its in an national emergency situation with Israel and the US , if you read in to reports you will know this clearly that only reason iran is still backing assad is because he was going to remain there for some time which he still is, iran needs the greatest deterrent against Israel and that is through hezbollah and the area nearest to Israel

if you use your common sense you'd realize why iran has little choice in the matters though iran has to switch sides and how it does that will be its challenge now

Anonymous said...

The Islamic regime will back Assad's regime all the way.Assad,Hezbollah,Islamic regime equal resistance against Israel and without Assad and his regime that triangle will be broken.
Don't forget that the regime in power in Iran came on a ticket of resistance of the Palestinians against "Zionists". Khomeini didn't promise economic riches for Iran, instead to put aside the quarrels between Shiite/Sunni and use Iran as a platform for a greater Muslim empire throughout the Muslim world.But Saddam changed all that when Khomeini was causing trouble amongst the Shiite of Iraq and invaded Iran.
Times have changed and the Shiites are considered as hypocrites in the eyes of the Sunnis.And last but not least the Shiite mullahs in Iran are discredit in the eyes of the Iranian people,because the little mystery and respect they did hold before the so called revolution has vanished for ever.When the Islamic regime collapses in Iran,it will be the end of Islam and Islamism as a moral and political force in our country for ever.

Anonymous said...

Hello my Iranian friends! You must help our dear friend Mr Assad, I have told my arms suppliers here that we must clear out our warehouses, thus we will be having our greatest small arms sale ever!!! AK's will be given out on credit....everything must go!!!! I have also authorized an additional 10,000 men to go to your country and train you on the proper usage of these weapons & also to train you on our latest advanced tactics in killing women & children (quietly of course!!!).

I would like to thank the Iranian people very very very very much for the help you gave me in selling oil last year!!!!! Even though the world is awash in oil, Russia still exported more than ever.....thank you so very much & remember....try not to think to much.....freedom is not a good thing for people like you....let your fantastik mullah leaders do your thinking for you!!!

Together someday we can rule the world....down down USA!!!!!

Look how much oil I sold last year:

Russian crude production in 2012 rises 1.3% to 10.4 million b/d

London (Platts)--2Jan2013/617 am EST/1117 GMT

Russia's crude oil production hit a record high of 518 million mt (10.4 million b/d) in 2012, preliminary data released Wednesday by the energy ministry's Central Dispatching Unit showed, as the country cemented its position as the world's biggest oil producer.

Crude output was up 1.3% year on year, the data as reported by AFP showed, and represents a new post-Soviet era high.

It is the third consecutive year that Russian crude production has exceeded 10 million b/d, and keeps it ahead of Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer.

Anonymous said...

Iran "has no choice"? that's utterly stupid and even insulting to an Iranian regime that merits most any insult.

Anonymous said...

Khomeini " put aside the quarrels between Shiite/Sunni" ???????

are you drunk or just naturally that way?

Anonymous said...

whatever this Paul Iddon write something about iran, you can be sure it is not correct.

Anonymous said...

And are you normally this insulting?
Ask me nicely and I will tell you why I said that.

Anonymous said...

The Syrian conflict is in a stalemate. A decisive outcome in the near future is not likely. Iran and Russia have made attempts at mediating but the US/NATO position is firm in its commitment to ousting Assad and his supporters. So the war goes on.

By the way Paul, how is it you are disclaiming the Islamic nature of Egypt's transition of power? Are you saying Egypt is not engaged in an Islamic Awakening?

And speaking of "grandeur", did you not notice that on the basis of principle the Iranians voted yes on the Palestinian UNGA resolution, in effect backing the PA? That's something even our own American legislators and executive branch proved incapable of.

We'll never get an objective reading of Iran political discourse from you, will we. It's all about advocacy for a secular Iran, something the majority of Iranians inside Iran (or Egyptians, it seems) do not support. That makes you anti-Iran, Paul. Is that your ultimate intent?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:51 PM......."It's all about advocacy for a secular Iran,something the majority of Iranians inside Iran (or Egyptians,it seems) do not support."

Well you go and speak on behalf the Egyptians (if they believe you) because you haven't a clue as regards the plight of Iranians under the rule of armed thugs of the theocracy in every street corner of Iran.
If anything by what you said makes you a perfect candidate as a person who loathes Iranian people and a true supporter of the Islamic fascist tyranny.
In your very own words you are the real "anti-Iran."

Paul Iddon said...

Mark, why do you insist on remaining anonymous?

Who are you telling? I've written more, and more extensively, than you on the manner in which U.S/NATO policy in regard to Syria and how it is serving to exacerbate rather than mitigate the effects of the conflict. But solely blaming them for the fact the war is still ongoing is far-fetched, even by the conspiratorial standards you occasionally stoop to.

I answered your point about the fallacy of the term 'Islamic Awakening' a year ago -- before the Muslim Brotherhood was even voted in. It's not an 'awakening' for the majority in a Muslim country to back an Islamic party when that party served as the grassroots opposition to that country's 29-year ruling autocrat.

The Iranian people support the right of Palestinians for self-determination. But the regime is obviously going to vote yes on such a resolution as it sees it as another way of opposing the existence of Israel. 'Basis of principal' has nothing to do with this move on the regimes part. Doubtlessly the vote would be the same if Iran were a democracy nevertheless, then it would be out of a basis of principal.

Total unsubstantiated drivel. We haven't had an assessment on what the Iranian people want in over 30 years because the regime hasn't held a referendum and keeps torturing anyone trying to carry out a conclusive opinion poll.

By the way Mark, you shouldn't lamely accuse other people of being 'anti-Iran' when you've, consciously as it seems, consecrated a considerable amount of your efforts to attempt to relativise and apologize for the authoritarian tyranny that has befallen Persia.

Anonymous said...

nicely tell us why you said that.