Iranian lawmaker pushes for Syria transparency (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 08/07/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
A senior Iranian lawmaker has called on his government to display
greater openness regarding Syria, saying that Iranians are entitled
to know why Iran considers Bashar Assad’s regime to be of strategic
importance, a local conservative news website reported Monday.
Popular conservative news site Tabnak said that Ahmad Reza Dastgheib,
deputy head of Iran’s Majlis Committee of National Security and
Foreign Policy, has called on Iranian officials to “speak with
transparency” about the country’s position on Syria.
Tabnak operates under the direction of Mohsen Rezai, secretary-
general of the Expediency Council and former commander of the Islamic
Revolutionary Guards Corps. who launched the site – previously known
as Baztab – in 2002 in response to a growth in reformist sites.
The site is a popular news source and considered reliable.
“People have the right to know why Syria is important for Iran and
what our interests in that country are,” Dastgheib said, according to
Tabnak. “All these cases, consequences and different conditions must
be explained to the people.”
Iran, whose dominant faith is Twelver Shia Islam, is Assad’s closest
regional ally. Assad and many dominant figures in his regime are
Alawite Muslims, a sect that follows a branch of the Twelver school
of Shia Islam.
Syria is important to Iran for many reasons, including the fact that
it allows Iran to extend its influence in the region to the border
Dastgheib also said Iran did not speak frankly to the Iranian people
on various issues, calling this a “major failing,” Tabnak said.
“Although our system is a popular system, sometimes we forget that
these people are the regime’s backbone,” he said.
The Iranian lawmaker also said the country must do all it can to
prevent the fall of Bashar Assad’s regime.
“We should make all our efforts to prevent the Syrian government from
falling,” Dastgheib said, adding that even if Assad’s regime is
toppled, Iran would not lose all its strategic positions in the
Dastgheib said that Syria is linked to Iranian interests because of
its strategic situation, which required the Islamic Republic to
conduct an “active diplomacy” with Assad’s regime.
The lawmaker added that the conditions in Syria were such that “a
single country must stand against many countries.”
“In any case, Syria should not fall, but if that happens then we must
come up with different strategies to maintain our strategic position
in Syria, that is, an alternative diplomatic system must also be
anticipated,” he said.
Dr. Eldad Pardo, an expert on Iranian politics and foreign policy at
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that Iran has not told
people the truth about its role in Syria, because the Iranian regime
is responsible for the massacre of innocent people in that country.
From the start of the Syrian uprising last year, Iran has tried to
export to Syria the same repressive techniques it used against its
own people during the uprisings after the allegedly rigged 2009
elections and again during 2011, Pardo said.
Iran has been involved in Syria via its Lebanese Shi’ite proxy,
Hezbollah, which has publicly expressed support for Syrian president
Bashar Assad’s regime, but has so far denied sending fighters.
In May, Iran admitted sending its elite Quds Force to aid Assad.
“Iran has brought death to its allies, the same as it did in Iraq,”
Pardo said, adding that since 1979, the Islamic Republic has been
involved in wars in the Middle East which have resulted in Arab
deaths, including the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Now, thanks to a combination of sanctions and Iran’s own economic
policies, there is increasing pressure on Iran for the Islamic
Republic to change its strategies, which Dastgheib alluded to, Pardo
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was supposed to advance both religious
and democratic values, and many in Iran believe that the current
religious dictatorship has betrayed the revolution.
There is also an ongoing debate in Iran after the Arab Spring, which
sought to bring greater democracy to Arab states.
“Even inside the regime, there are voices of dissent who say the
country needs to present alternatives,” said Pardo, who noted that
the regime remains afraid of transparency and openness.
Syria presents a “major challenge” for the Iranian regime, he added,
calling it a “double burden” for Iran.
If Iran loses its Syrian ally, it will lose its access to the
Mediterranean, and also its strategy of creating an axis of influence
in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
However, Pardo said that many in Iran still believe they can salvage
Assad’s regime, overcome the sanctions and also emerge as a nuclear
“The real solution in Iran would be internal reform,” he concluded.
Also on Monday, Tabnak dismissed as “rumors and allegations” Western
media reports that 48 Iranians captured by Syrian rebels are members
of the Revolutionary Guards.
Iran has said those kidnapped are Iranian pilgrims and, according to
official news agency, IRNA has urged Qatar and Turkey to help release
Tabnak quoted another senior Iranian lawmaker, Esmail Kowsari, as
saying the kidnapping of Iranians was part of an initiative by the US
and Israel to stir dissent and chaos in Syria.
Later on Monday, IRNA reported that Iran plans to host a meeting –
this week – of regional and other countries that have “realistic
stances” on Syria, in order to find ways to resolve the country’s
“A consultation meeting on Syria will be held in Tehran on Thursday
with the participation of those countries who have ... realistic
stances on this country,” IRNA quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein
Amir-Abdollahian as saying.
The aim of the meeting is to find “ways out of the current crisis,
the return of stability and calm to that country and also supporting
all constructive regional and international efforts,” Abdollahian
The report did not say which countries were invited to the meeting
but, because of their involvement in the Syrian crisis, any meeting
held without Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey is unlikely to have any
significant result. Reuters contributed to this report. (© 1995-2011,
The Jerusalem Post 08/07/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY