Syria – Has the US Traded Syria For An Iranian Nuclear Deal?

Has Iran Persuaded The US To “Walk Their Way”?

Shahba Press, a Free Syrian Newspaper, reported on March 16th, the US is “Like a bitch that has no friend.” One political analyst commented on the politics of the USA by saying, “We can see they [USA] have made a deal with Iran. Iran is demanding they [USA] leave the Syrian revolution and the people of Syria alone; those being killed by Assad with assistance from Iran and Russia.”

That comment followed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech when he said, “the US will eventually have to negotiate with Assad.”

Kerry’s statement above clearly reflects how the people of Syria feel about the United States and the International Community. They see deliberate inaction which has resulted in a cataclysmic disaster.

It is not just the People of Syria that are concerned about the US deal with Iran. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Jordan have also expressed concerns over gains that Iran will achieve by ending years of dispute over its nuclear ambitions. However, this concern is not new. The region’s concerns over Iran stretches back historically, going back to 2003, and countries like Jordan have been vocal about their concern regarding the US action in Iraq and any cooperation with Iran.

Ali Vaez, Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group Think Tank, explained in WSJ some of these same Middle East countries are now more worried about the consequences of the deal, and how it will change the balance of power in the region; “rather than the actual contents of the deal.” These fears are overblown, Vaez said, “The reality is that the U.S. may have a tactical overlap in its interests in the region with Iran, but strategically it sees the region in a very different way.”

Is it this tactical overlap that has created the strategic consequences resulting in Iran running both Syria and Iran?

On March 4th, the Wall Street Journal said, “The White House decision to focus the U.S. military effort exclusively on Islamic State, sparing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, has allowed the regime and its Iranian-backed allies to regain ground there. This means that even the fighters of the U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, which is supposed to help defeat Islamic State one day, are no longer sure about which side Washington really supports.” Bakri Kaakeh, a senior FSA officer in Aleppo province said, “America wants to back whoever is stronger, and the strongest now are Iran and Bashar. This is clear to all people.”

After a March 5th meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Even as we engage in these discussions with Iran around its nuclear program, we will not take our eye off of Iran’s other destabilizing actions in places like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula, Yemen particularly. Kerry said, “Let me underscore: we are not seeking a grand bargain. Nothing will be different the day after this agreement if we were to reach one, with respect to all of the other issues that challenge us in this region.”

The point Mr. Kerry has missed according to Middle East allies is everything has already changed: Syria, Iraq, and Yemen particularly. When Mr. Kerry said “We will not take our eyes off Iran’s other destabilizing actions,” (referring to Yemen) was he talking about the same Yemen that was overtaken by the Houthies who are funded by Iran?

Why Is The US Sitting On The Sidelines While Iran Runs Rampant Across The Region?

Russia has warned that US air strikes against militants [ISIS] in Syria would be a “gross violation of international law.” According to BBC, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said “Any such action, without the backing of the UN, [US air strikes] would be an act of aggression.” It is clear that Russia would block any such action in the UN. At the same time according The Daily Mail, Iran and Syria warned they could trigger “first sparks of fire” over their concerns that the US would assert its air power in Syria. Does this explain the somewhat limited scope of the US airstrikes in Syria?

Despite all the assurances by John Kerry that the US has “everything in control” and no one should be worried about the negotiations the US is leading with Iran, the Mullahs are still espousing threatening messages, currently through their military leaders. On March 11th the Iranian FARS News Journal (English) reported that IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, “The US should find a way to survive and continue its endangered life, but we are surprised at the enemy’s insistence on costly and useless scenarios. We have grown so much powerful that we don’t feel concerned about the enemy’s unwise attitude. We can go past any enemy scenario, and this has been proved in our contemporary history.”

It is true that ISIS is a major concern for Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Yemen and Jordan, however, Iran is certainly a competing and likely a greater concern. Charles Krauthammer, wrote an opt-ed in the New York Times, Iran’s Emerging Empire, where he said, “Tehran appears to be using its control of Syria and Hezbollah to create its very own front against Israel.” Krauthammer says that Israelis can defeat any conventional attack. This is not a new revelation though!

However, Charles Kraauthammer says, “Not so the Gulf Arabs. To the north and west, they see Iran creating a satellite “Shiite Crescent” stretching to the Mediterranean and consisting of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To their south and west, they see Iran gaining proxy control of Yemen. And they [Gulf Arabs] are caught in the pincer.”

What is the impact on Syria?

Over the past four years, Syrians have asked the United States to partner with them to free their country of tyranny. It was clear to most Syrians that a terrible tragedy was on the horizon when peaceful protests asking for civil rights were rewarded with armed response from the Assad government. As the demonstrations got larger, and the first massacres began in small towns which Assad blamed on “terrorists.”

The past four years have been nothing but a blur of Assad finding new ways to kill his people, new excuses for the International Community to sit on the side line with their “eyes wide shut,” and watching the “tears, pain and death” of the Syrian people.

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How many Syrians have really Assad slaughtered? Some say 250,000, but it is certainly the number is much higher. Just consider the hundreds of thousands of buildings that Assad has bombed that are now rubble throughout Syria. On March 12, 2015, Oula Alrifai (@OulAbdulHamid), a Syrian Analyst and Political Asylee due to death threats, currently works at the Washington Institute tweeted, “The world is failing #Syria! #Assad has killed almost a million Syrians now, not 200,000 as the media is circulating! #Refugees #Starvation.”

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Photo Credit: Shahba Press

Nazeer Al-Khatib the editor of Shahba press wrote about what happened on March 14 in his town of Mare just north of Aleppo:

It happened in my town, to be reassured asleep in your home, then to wake up to the humming of aircraft. All of a sudden you hear a loud explosion; the rocket landed … you look at yourself … I’m still alive! Rushing, rushing outside the house. It looks a scene from the Day of Judgment. A man holds his children screaming, “It’s not our fault?”

On the other hand, a man mourns his stranded relatives under the rubble. I was struck by a calm child looking at his home, thinking of his memories and dreams that the bombing converted to ashes. This [kind of] power is generated from weakness, but the nation is like the sun … it will inevitably rise back again from that which has been improvised by a plane, and with the “spirit of death” to complete the march of dead and destruction on his nation’s sons.

When I was talking with Nazeer al-Khatib last week, it wasn’t hard to understand how frustrated he was and why he couldn’t understand the International community’s reluctance to help. He said that Syrians aren’t asking for much, “Syrians just want to be treated as humans.” Such a basic request! A request that is the right of everyone and upheld by the United Nations, the Geneva Convention, and a right that the United States talks about fervently. Nazeer said without basic rights we have nothing, “I just want to go live on Mars.” I don’t believe he meant that to be funny.

In an Al-Jazeera opt-ed, Marwan Bishara reminds everyone that there isn’t anything that Assad wouldn’t do to “defend his rule regardless of the consequences.” Marwan said, “He [Assad] was straightforward from the beginning; if he had to go, so does the country. The collapse of this regime would mean the collapse of the state; regardless of the costs for Syria and Syrians.”

Assad has destroyed Syria, likely killed close to a million people, detained, tortured, burned alive, burned dead, and thrown people away. The video below is a chilling story about how the Assad regime gets rid of the missing told by a recruit dissident as interviewed by Al-Jazeera Arabic. NewsBlaze had the video translated.

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And when faced with the possibility of an international intervention to halt the violence, Assad warned of an “earthquake” and “tens of Afghanistans.” It is unsettling how Assad’s self-fulfilling prophecy has come true, right down to the foreign fighters that Iran has imported to fight in Syria including “Afghanistans.”

Assad doesn’t care if Syrians are treated as humans or not. He only wants to keep his throne, no matter what that takes. Russia and Iran are willing to back Assad, but not because he is right. Both Russia and Iran have an invested reason to back Assad. Although it is rarely mentioned, Russia has a long-term lease on the Tartus Naval Base in Syria which is their only entrance into the Mediterranean. Additionally, Assad also signed an agreement with Russia for off-shore oil & gas rights to repay armament debt.

Conclusion: Has the US lost their way?

If the US is making a “New Deal” with Iran, and as the Arab allies have warned there are costs, the US will suffer unmeasurable consequences for arrogance. The loss of crucial allies in the Middle East will be irreparable.

The Obama Administration must understand that stability in the Middle East is “all about the base.” What is the base? Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf States. Putting these countries at risk through poorly calculated strategies or “no strategy” planning is unacceptable. As Nehad Ismail told me, “Assisting Iran to explode their hegemony of the Middle East is dangerous. They already occupy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It [Iran] threatens the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”

It is widely known that Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism in the Middle East region. They have their Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah lined up in the Golan Heights, staring at the Israeli border now. Iran supports both Hezbollah and Hamas militants. Iran used al-Qaeda to spread terror in East Africa in the late 1990’s and it has used al-Qaeda to attempt to destabilize neighboring countries like Saudi-Arabia. Iran may talk anti-ISIS, BUT evidence exists of Iranian collusion with ISIS to help the Assad regime. Also, in Iraq the policy towards ISIS is more “ISIS move over” that “ISIS goes down.”

Iran is funding military support to the Houthies who have overthrown the legitimate government in Yemen, “now threatening the very existence of the country” according to Nehad Ismail. According to CNN America on March 23, the situation continues to deteriorate.

If it isn’t Syria, maybe there is another option. Iran may be willing to give up its long list of protected terrorists in exchange for a Nuclear Deal. The Daily Beast states in a September 25, 2014 article, “Iran has long been harboring senior al Qaeda, al Nusra, and so-called Khorasan Group leaders as part of its complicated strategy to influence the region and keep itself off the terrorist target list, according the U.S. government, intelligence agencies, and terrorism experts.”

Is the United States trading Syria for Iran’s terrorist list, using the Nuclear Deal as payment? Whatever the scenario, there are a lot of people that think the deal stinks.

No matter what happens with the Iran deal, something must happen with the Syria crisis! The Syrian Genocide must be stopped. One tweeter stated: “What is happening in #Syria is shameful to the entire world!!!”