Some in Iran urge caution in aiding Assad

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BEIRUT, Lebanon – The European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s elite al-Quds Force, clandestine arm of the Revolutionary Guards, for helping Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tehran’s strategic ally, crush a 5-month-old insurrection.

But it seems there are some in Tehran who are urging the Iranian leadership to step back from using its military muscle to keep Assad in power and take a more nuanced approach.

They argue that as the remorseless rise in Syrian death toll remorselessly rises — the United Nations says it exceeds 2,200 — this will alienate Arab states that Tehran seeks to win over as part of its drive to expand its influence in the Middle East.

“While officially Iran is committed to the survival of the Syrian regime, the perceived gravity of the situation has led an increasing number of former Iranian diplomats and academics to voice concern over the Islamic Republic’s failure to hedge its bets in Syria,” observed longtime Middle East analyst Mahan Abedin.

“The fear — expressed in its most extreme form — is that the downfall of President Assad may lead to the collapse of the Iranian-Syrian strategic alliance,” he wrote in Asia Times Online.

“While these fears are exaggerated, nonetheless there is a widespread feeling in the country that the lack of nuance in Iran’s position — and specifically the absence of any contact with Syrian opposition groups — is not configured to protect Iran’s interests in what is by all accounts a highly significant political and strategic moment in the region.”

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Al Manar, the Lebanese television channel run by Hezbollah, an ally of Iran and Syria, that it was time a for a dialogue between Assad and his opponents about political reforms.

That marked a significant shift in Tehran’s position amid the international outcry over the brutal Iranian-assisted security crackdown Assad has waged since March 15.

The protesters are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims seeking the downfall of a regime, which is dominated by minority Alawites and allied with Shiite Iran.

Whether Ahmadinejad’s statement stemmed from the urging of the prominent Iranian figures identified by Abedin isn’t clear.

But Ahmadinejad’s uncharacteristically conciliatory tone may have been intended to placate Hezbollah, which, although it is Shiite, has found it increasingly difficult to support the slaughter of Sunni Arabs by one of its mentors in the face of swelling Arab anger over the bloodletting of pro-democracy activists.

Hezbollah heads the Beirut government and thus effectively puts Lebanon squarely in the Iranian camp. The party is increasingly uneasy about anything that threatens its newfound power — like regime change in Syria that would cut it off from Iran.

“The people and government of Syria must come together to reach an understanding,” Ahmadinejad told Al-Manar.

The EU sanctions announced Wednesday allege the Iranians “provided technical assistance, equipment and support to the Syrian security services to repress civilian protest movements.”

Iran has denied this is, as does Hezbollah, which has also been accused of supporting the Syrian regime that provides it with weapons.

The United States and Europe support the wave of pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world that erupted in January.

These are dramatically changing the region’s political landscape as Iran seems determined to establish itself as the paramount power in the Middle East. It’s being challenged by old rival Saudi Arabia and by Turkey.

As the Iranians see it, securing a peaceful transition in Syria would enhance their stature.

“Talking to Iranian officials it appears that there is deep unease about the methods employed by the Syrian security forces,” Abedin observed.

He said that a Web site, Iranian Diplomacy, run by Iranians largely aligned with reformist factions, is the focal point of the questioning of official policy regarding Syria.

“Although firmly anchored in the official Iranian worldview, Iranian Diplomacy nonetheless offers serious and at times scathing criticism of official policy,” Abedin noted.

“It is fair to say that a growing number of Iranian officials are concerned that Iran’s unequivocal support for Assad and the ruling clique in Damascus is tarnishing the Islamic Republic’s image in the Arab world.

“It appears that there is a growing recognition in ruling circles in Tehran that this posture is unsustainable, particularly if internal and external pressure continues to mount against Assad.”

UPI

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12 responses to “Some in Iran urge caution in aiding Assad”

  1. PROPHET.T Avatar
    PROPHET.T

    Iran  could  be  the  first country to abandon Assad if  it feels that He won’t survive. Iranians  will always  look after their  own  interest first. Iran’s hope would  be for the Islamite to take over  Syria, if Assad  has  to  go, instead of a  liberal elected  government, or  any  government.
    Although there is a shiia –Sunni conflict, which  never  worries   me  much, Iran can and  would be able to work  with a Sunni Islamite state  much  better than a  liberal democratic one. Iran and an  Islamite  controlled  regime in  Syria  will find  common  interests in being  enemies of Israel and the united states. The Assad family is not  more  patriotic than the  average  Syrian.
     No one would  expect any  Syrian  government to  give in  to Israel’s  conditions to  peace. No one  expects  any Syrian  to  give  up the Golan  heights for some  U.S. or  Arab  aid  either.
    An Islamite leaning  government in  Syria  will not  get  billions of dollars  of  aid  from the  west  or  the  Arab states. Nor would it be  able to get  military  support .Iran  will always  fill in  the  gap, and support  the  Syrian  army and the  Syrian  economy. So the alliance   between  Syria and  Iran  can  survive the  collapse  of the Assad Regime.

  2. Darw101 Avatar

    Even the iranians realize that Assad’s methods have gone too far and that it is time to try something else besides guns and tanks against the protesters.  

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Well .. they might also hate be alone too …

      1. I would say they are worried that hey are next,Were going after that nuclear program soon..He deludes himself that it isn’t going to happen,were not going to do anything, he is going to be sadly mistaken…

  3.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Even the iranians realize that Assad’s methods have gone too far and that it is time to try something else besides guns and tanks against the protesters.  

    1.  Avatar
      Anonymous

      Well .. they might also hate be alone too …

      1. I would say they are worried that hey are next,Were going after that nuclear program soon..He deludes himself that it isn’t going to happen,were not going to do anything, he is going to be sadly mistaken…

  4. PROPHET.T Avatar
    PROPHET.T

    yalibnan,
    It seems that  there is  a problem with  the site. I  have  posted a comment  few times  on  this  page, and they all disappeared. once  the  site  is  working  properly, I’d  appreciate it  if  you can  delete  the  repeated  comments. thank you  very  much. No need to  post this comment  either.

  5. Patience2 Avatar
    Patience2

    A madman looking over the shoulder of an idiot.

    1. Funniest comment I seen all night..You rock for saying the absolute  truth.

      Though this is truly a enigma so to speak.. They both qualify as a madman as well as idiots so technically they magnify the homicidal stupidity of both regimes,lol.. The world will be a better place when both these governments fall…(And Lebanon is returned to the Lebanese)

  6.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    A madman looking over the shoulder of an idiot.

    1. Funniest comment I seen all night..You rock for sayin the absolute  truth

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