“President Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies.”
So said a White House readout of the meeting last Wednesday between President Trump and Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister.
The role of Iran in Syria is often overlooked, with more focus usually placed on Russia, given its role in providing diplomatic cover for the murderous Assad regime and its position on the UN Security Council.
That is not to disregard the shameful support President Putin has given to Assad. However, when it comes to analysing what is happening on the ground in Syria, more often than not it is the evil hand of Iran that is to be found orchestrating some of the most horrific acts of violence inflicted on the people of Syria.
According to a report, ‘Understanding Iran’s Role in the Syrian Conflict’, by the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Iran has supplied the Syrian Government forces and other Shia militias with light arms and advanced strategic weapons, including rockets, rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles. They have also used drones to conduct strikes against rebel groups near Aleppo.
Iran’s deep involvement in the conflict extends from supplying of military equipment and advice to providing thousands of ‘boots on the ground’, whether in the form of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force or its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.
Iran has not even been trying to hide their involvement. For example, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Chief Military Aide boasted in December 2016 that Syrian President Assad’s forces would have been unable to retake Aleppo without support from Tehran:
“Aleppo was liberated thanks to a coalition between Iran, Syria, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah…Iran is on one side of this coalition which is approaching victory and this has shown our strength”.
He then tactfully added: “the new American president should take heed of the powers of Iran”.
This support for the regime of President Assad is nothing short of reprehensible. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been slain by their own ‘government’, millions more have been displaced and an entire region is now racked with instability.
The chemical weapons attack last month, undoubtedly committed by the Syrian government forces, on a rebel-held town was just the latest in a very long line of crimes against humanity conducted in Syria.
What has not been as widely covered is that, as long ago as 2005, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that Iran was working with Syria to build an “innovative chemical warfare programme” and that Iran’s role was to build equipment to produce “hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin and mustard”.
Furthermore, Iranian action in coordination with the Syrian government and Russia is also impeding the international community’s attempts to provide humanitarian aid to the millions of Syrians in desperate need of assistance.
It is about time that the West treated Iran in the manner it deserves, rather than pussyfooting around the revolutionary regime in Tehran that has little interest in playing a responsible role in the international community.
President Trump’s diplomatic efforts have been somewhat blunt since entering office earlier this year. However, after years of failed attempts to counter Iran’s regional meddling, perhaps it is now time for some straight talking.