Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Iran raises pressure on Assad

Robin Hughes, Janes Defense Weekly:
Western diplomats with access to an Iranian Foreign Ministry source have told JDW that, during a meeting in Tehran in the last week of March 2005, the current Iranian leadership took a decision "to implement measures calculated to prevent Syria from abandoning its strategic ally Iran and from complying with Western pressures to abandon its support for those elements that further the strategic interests of Tehran".

Syria's peremptory withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon in April, after nearly three decades of military presence there, has prompted concerns in Tehran that its erstwhile 'common front' ally has deferred to international pressure and may now be seeking to unilaterally re-establish its credibility in the international community, leaving Iran isolated as the sole 'rogue' nation in the region, the source said.

"Iran perceives the withdrawal as capitulation to the threat of [UN] Security Council sanctions under Resolution 1559, however much Damascus might try to justify it under the text of the Taif Accords [the agreement that ended the civil war]," the source said. "From Tehran's perspective, the withdrawal reflects a weakness in the regime in Damascus and augurs a dangerous precedent for Iran-Syria relations."

The focus of Iran's anger is directed principally at Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, whom, the source said, Tehran perceives as "an unreliable partner for building strategic relations". Accordingly, "Iran plans to map the Syrian intelligence and military leadership and to mark those whose radical stands are closest to Iran's posture in order to undermine Assad's position," the source said.

"Iran intends to develop contacts with these individuals and through them attempt to influence Assad's stance, while singling out certain individuals for preferred treatment under favour with the leadership in Tehran," the source said. "For Iran, close and secret ties with Syrian intelligence and military officials will enable Tehran to evaluate in the future the possibility of promoting a coup in Syria should Assad continue to further a policy that could potentially undermine Iran's strategic interests." ... READ MORE