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>> Asharq Al-Awsat


IRAN AND THE POST-ASSAD PHASE

Asharq Al-Awsat - November 17, 2011

by Tariq Alhomayed

It is remarkable– at the time of writing – that no official Iranian position has been issued towards the Arab League resolutions on Syria, despite the fact that nearly five days have passed since the resolutions were passed, which have prompted the al-Assad regime to lose its mind, and despite the fact that Hezbollah has since described the Arab League as the “Hebrew League”.

What is more remarkable –according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph – is that a meeting was held between Syrian opposition leaders and the Iranian regime. Thus it appears that Tehran – as expected – is growing concerned about its interests should the regime of Bashar al-Assad fall, and hence it is keen to identify the nature of the Syrian opposition and its orientations. This is normal and routine for the Iranians, especially as Tehran has genuine interests that will be harmed significantly when al-Assad departs, for this will be considered an official announcement of its failure to export the Iranian revolution, not to mention the failure of Tehran’s foreign policy as a whole.

What is also worthy of consideration here is that there was widespread political debate in the region at the beginning of the Syrian revolution, suggesting that in the event of the Arabs standing with Bashar al-Assad in this crisis, he would have to reconsider his positions with regards to his relations with Iran, and then perhaps al-Assad would return to the Arab fold. However, it is clear today that Tehran has decided to open bridges of communication with the Syrian opposition, because it seems that Iran is no longer confident of the al-Assad regime remaining in power.

There is also another significant piece of information, although not yet confirmed, which is logical and worthy of contemplation, especially after the Telegraph’s revelations about Iranian meetings with some Syrian opposition parties. This information states that there are movements, headed by leading figures from Hamas, to broker meetings between Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria through Sudanese mediators. These negotiations are being conducted in the background away from public eyes, so that both parties are reassured about the other’s intentions in the coming phase, i.e. the post-Assad phase.

What this means is that as much as Iran feels the danger of the coming stage; the post-Assad phase, it has come to realize that the al-Assad regime’s era is nearly over. Thus, Tehran’s silence regarding the Arab League resolutions, and reports of its negotiations with parties from the Syrian opposition, suggest that Iran is concerned about its interests in the region. Tehran now feels it has reached the stage of “cutting its loses” or eliminating them all together. In practical terms this means the fall of the al-Assad regime, which in turn would mean that the bulk of outlets would be blocked for Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. The magnitude of the coming change in Syria will also have a significant impact upon Iraq, which should be regarded as a positive thing. Iran would not be able to extend its Persian bridge from Tehran through Iraq, and from Syria to Lebanon, which has effectively become Tehran’s port on the Mediterranean.

Hence we must consider an important matter. If Iran and its agents in the region are in such a state of confusion while the al-Assad regime is still reeling, how will Tehran react when President al-Assad finally departs?





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