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‘Toppling Assad is proxy war against Iran’

Published time: December 05, 2011 11:36
Edited time: December 05, 2011 15:36

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) greets his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during a welcoming ceremony for the latter in Tehran (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)

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Western diplomacy regards the Syrian president as a lost cause, so since he has close ties with Iran, toppling Assad would be a major blow to Tehran, argues UK journalist and author Jonathan Steele.

­The West calling to open a humanitarian corridor to Syria means, in other words, it is seeking to have a number of foreign military people move into Syria, perhaps against the will of Damascus, evaluates Steele.

The other step in this direction is readiness to recognize the Syrian opposition once it unites into a joint political force with a united platform to be safely communicated with, he said.

“The question is what this platform would be,” argues Steele. “Would it be a very hard one that keeps repeating ‘Assad must go’ or would it be a platform that says ‘we need dialogue and peaceful transition’.”

Another question, believes Steele, is whether the “protecting civilians” card will be played, in other words “Benghazi syndrome”.

“If the West says that, for example, the city of Homs needs protection, they could have a no-fly zone over that city – that would become a full-scale support for one side in the civil war,” predicts journalist.

But as the centers of Syrian opposition are deep within the territory, unlike Benghazi in Libya, which is coastal, so bringing air-carriers into Syrian waters and establishing such a zone over the heads of Syrian military armed with sophisticated Russian-made air-defense systems would be a rash act, Steele says. Also, Syrian coasts are now well protected.

“Bringing in ships, weapons and supplies to Syria will be difficult – unless they nominate one of the coastal cities of the [Syrian] Mediterranean as a ‘safe zone’,” Steele mocks, pointing out that “It is a bit unlikely at the moment because those cities are relatively quiet.”

Western diplomacy does its best in order for the dialogue between official Damascus and the Syrian opposition never to happen, he claims.

“They keep saying that [President] Assad should have dialogue with the opposition,” Jonathan Steele says, recalling that the Syrian opposition copy/paste the American, British and French diplomats who are against any dialogue with Damascus, being hanged-up about ousting Assad unconditionally.

“They should be putting the same pressure on the opposition to enter dialogue as they are putting on the government in Damascus. It is ridiculous to tell one side to start talking – who are they are going to talk to if the other side refuses?”

The journalist points out that the west has already decided that President Assad is a lost cause because of his links to Hezbollah, his consistent anti-Israeli position and relations with Iran.

“They have decided that it is almost like a proxy war against Iran if can you topple Assad,” Steele observes.

The journalist insists it is only the hostility against Iran that moves the west, while there is nothing it could be afraid of in Iran itself. Even hypothetic Iranian nuclear weapons are “a long way down the line" before Iran has deliverable nuclear weapons.

“There is no reason to be really afraid of Iran.”

The hard line taken by Iranian Arab neighbors is amazingly irresponsible, but it could be explained by Sunni-Shia confrontation, “a proxy war between Gulf Arabs and Iranian regime”.

Despite grieve lessons of Sunni and Shia terrorizing each other in Iraq under the American occupation, where mosques were blown up together with praying Muslims of both confessions, the US consistently pump anti-Iranian hysteria in the Arab world, playing Sunni against Shia, Steele claims.

If Syria falls into civil war for real, the ruling Alawi minority would be forced to flee the country, leaving Syrian Christians and other confessions at discretion of the armed opposition groups, notorious for their cruelty. Religious discrimination and ethnic cleansing would be ubiquitous, the journalist warns.

“A lot of the minorities are really worried so that is probably why there are demonstrations for Assad in Damascus.”

Those Syrians who lost their relatives in clashes might really want Assad to go but many other are genuinely pro-Assad, “so that is why you need mediation,” because a compromise need concessions from both sides, Jonathan Steele argues.

“One thing that should be on the table is immunity for Assad,” Steele says, because definitely Assad has learnt the lessons of former Egyptian president Mubarak put on trial and former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi who was lynched. So Assad will not give up power peacefully with a perspective of disgrace or death.

But the West has made a “cynical calculation” on the example of Libya that toppling a regime to replace it with a pro-Western one is “worth it,” since nobody knows the real price of human lives paid to topple Gaddafi.