Tehran pulls out all the stops to win in Syria
15 Saudis kill 3000 Americans on 9/11, so the Saudis spend even more millions to persuade Americans they are friend’s and allies. Egypt under Mubark presents itself as the very model of stability.
When in 2007 Israel proved to us that North Korea was building a nuclear reactor I Syria CIA would only say officially that it had “low confidence” of this. How many secretaries of state have been Syria’s Assad as a potential “reformer” spoken of their admiration for Mubark or seen and Israel-Palestinian peace only “inches” away. The reality facing us in Syria is a humiliating defeat of the United States at the hands of Iran and Hezbollah, aided by Russia in a manner that destabilizes and weakens all our allies and our influence in the Middle East.
We do support them; we give them money and other things, and we are in contact all the time with them through our embassies and now through the CIA too. The answer here is to persuade the Russians that Assad must go in the end and get them to ease him out.
What legal basis do we have to intervene, without a Security Council resolution? The administration has been changing the talking points when useful as the number of jihadists grew. When for example the president established a red line on chemical weapons and the Assad regime crossed it; or when the Israelis repeatedly attacked Syria and did not lose any planes—the administration stuck the line. Reality was permitted to change US policy. One reality the administration appears to be wrestling with is the impact on Jordan of million refugees.
More chemical weapons use by Assad might embarrass the president into action, as might more Israel air attacks. Compare now the Iranian/Hezbollah approach of shipping arms and fighters, while Russia provides protection at the UN.
We cannot afford to lose this one. A Sunni government in Syria would align with Turkey or the Gulf Arabs or the West, or some combination of them against us. The bridge between Iran and Hezbollah would be lost. Hezbollah would be badly weakened.
Russia is not match for Americans so we must win and we will dedicate to winning any resources that are needed, we don’t care about Sunnis in Syria or about weakening Turkey or especially Jordan; in fact those would be nice side benefits form the struggle in Syria
The NYT on 5/22 we learned that Qassim Suleimani, the Auds Force commander, recently ordered Iranian artillery and armor officials to help Mr. Assad’s regime. Iraqi Shiite militias that have been trained by the Iranians join the war effort in Syria. Iran is heavily involved in training thousands of members of Assad’s militia, the Jaish al-Sha’bi, including in Iran. The Washington post on 5/21 reported Iran has sent soldiers to Syria to fight alongside forces loyal to Assad and those of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia. An unknown number of Iranians are fighting in Syria.
The Economist in London—Hizbullah and the Iranian al-Quds force are helping to train a new national defense force of 50,000 drawn form the mainly Alawite militias. The willingness of Iran and Hezbollah to make this their fight by sending unlimited quantities of money and arms and then sending thousands of fighters.
With the threat to stability in Jordan and the violation of the chemical weapons red line and the direct Iranian and Hezbollah role, the Obama administration would be forced to do something serious.
Khamenei Doctrine holds that a country that is part of the Iranian security system, what King Abdullah of Jordan once called the Shia Crescent, will be kept in that system. At all cost. That is what winning means for Iran.
Losing in Syria would be a disaster for him (ayatollah) so he will do what he must to prevent it. No hand wringing, no worrying about the cost and the risks, no concern about the UN and its resolutions, no worries about the human toll.
Our own Syria policy seems based in wishes and speeches and worries, risk avoidance, politics and conferences.
Sources—weekly standard, nyt, Washington post, the economist, elliot aabrams