The Middle East Weekly Review: Iran's involvement in the Syrian Civil War; Choosing the Lesser of Two Evil

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The grave humanitarian crisis is growing more dire by the day and many promises for more aid to be given to besieged Syrians were made. One of the ways in which the international community wishes to help them is by giving alternatives to working through Damascus.

What worsened the situation is the fact that Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint United Nations-League of Arab States special representative for Syria resigned from his post saying he was “very, very sad to leave Syria in such a bad state.”

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While Iran is the number one backer of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad, Tehran has also consistently advocated international cooperation against Al-Qaeda and related groups; disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons and him annotation relief and air corridors, which would be in the interest of the international community.

In February this year, Alireza Miryousefi, an Iranian diplomat at the Mission of Iran to the United Nations, argued for urgently addressing the ride of extremist groups in Syria, while noting Iran’s constructive role in “the issue of chemical disarmament, which has been widely covered as well as Iran’s mediation role in establishing aid corridors to remove civilians from the conflict zones in Syria and sending humanitarian assistance.”

In March, Iran Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian laid a four-part an for Syria that included international cooperation on terrorism; humanitarian assistance; a role for the United Nations and “reinforcing the political track” in Syria with comprehensive talks.

Days before the Homs agreement this month, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that Iran is determined to expand its cooperation with them.

Putting Iran to the test on counterterrorism, disarmament and air corridors in Syria might be a good step before considering some of the costly and uncertain alternatives that have been suggested, including complicated humanitarian workarounds, given that successful aid deliveries require local cease-fires, which means cooperation of Damascus, Tehran and Moscow; exporting sensitive anti-aircraft weapons to moderate Syrian opposition forces, given that terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) hold swat in many areas and so readying our own guns in case of Syria defaults on its own disarmament obligations, despite the lack of popular support for US military involvement in Syria.

“The heinous actions of both parties in this conflict can ink be described as collective punishment and acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. That this violence is repeatedly committed with blatant impunity highlights how international community has failed the Syrian people.”

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Syrians are no longer under any illusions as to what this civil war is really about. If at first it was about freedom and the change in government, things have changed. Now it isn’t about fighting terrorism, not is it about toping tyranny. Instead, it’s a cynical power struggle and it’s them who are under continuous threat. While the government used them as human shields, now both sides started bombing them, starving and amusing them while both also having the same empty rhetoric about how each is saving the Syrian people from terror and oppression of the others. Therefore, any Syrian picking sides now is just choosing the lesser of two evils.. which is normal, as all politicians, all opposing sides are bad, but even this is a subject which one can argue about.

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However, if we are to be positive, the negotiated withdrawal of rebels from Homs and the return of some of its inhabitants is a very important turning points as it proves that productive negotiations on the ground are also possible, even if they’re done between the bitterest of enemies. This also shows that perhaps the way forward in Syria is not some sophisticated Geneva talks, but a series of locally brokered agreements reached by the Syrians themselves.

Bibliography:

Al Monitor: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/week-in-review-united-states-test-iran-syria.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=83f615e7d7-Week_In_Review_18_5_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-83f615e7d7-102320929
Institute for the Study of War; Iranian Strategy in Syria: http://www.understandingwar.org/report/iranian-strategy-syria
Al Arabiya: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/05/09/Homs-truce-underscores-high-degree-of-Iranian-involvement.html
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/saudi-arabia-settle-differences-iran

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