Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

A reconciliation with the Assad regime and Iran is not a solution

What the Arabic press is saying about Iran's role in Syria and Iraq.

As Iran’s involvement in the Syrian war and in Iraq grows deeper, some analysts have called for a review of the current policy and for a change of perspective over the Al Assad regime.

In an opinion article in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat, the columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashed wrote: “Reconciliation may have been acceptable at the onset of the Syrian crisis, but not now. In fact, it would be the worst decision any Arab government –especially in the Gulf region – could consider.”

The problem isn’t with the Syrian president as such, but with his legacy and his close relationship with Iranian regime. The war in Syria can no longer be seen as a domestic issue that has little to do with the wider region.

“If Saudi Arabia were to heed Egypt’s advice or the calls of analysts and accept a solution or reconciliation with Mr Al Assad, it would mean handing the whole of the Levant – that is Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – to Iran. This would inevitably lead to Iranian domination of the northern Gulf and Saudi Arabia,” the writer suggested.

Despite the fact that the ISIL case is pressing and thorny, it doesn’t make sense to allow Iran to take the helm in Syria and Iraq.

Iran continues to be the greatest threat to the Arabian Gulf region, especially as it nears closing the deal with the West over its nuclear programme. American promises that Washington would not allow Iran to harm the interests of its neighbours aren’t adequate considering that Washington’s capabilities have shrunk in the Middle East.

“Hence, offering political and military support to the moderate Syrian opposition is a matter of utmost urgency for Gulf Arabs, firstly to deprive the Iranians from the chance to take over Syria, and secondly, because Saudi Arabia cannot, for any reason, forsake 20 million Syrians,” Al Rashed added.

The columnist Daoud Al Sharyan wrote in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat quoting French sources that Paris sees a political solution in Syria as advantageous, but its position isn’t met with the same enthusiasm from the United States.

In fact, France suspects that the US position over Syria seems to suggest the intent to provide weapons to Mr Al Assad, which would be a tremendous gift to Tehran.

“Iran’s nuclear issue has become an economic deal of growing value. Once the deal is made, it would lead to a flurry of economic transactions between the US and Iran,” the writer said.

Barack Obama is wagering on Iran as a future partner in the region and is prepared to give it leeway to realise its expansion and dominion plans in the Middle East.

“The agreement would surely rearrange the situation in Syria. Washington’s bet on Tehran means it accepts its role in supporting the Assad regime, and possibly providing it with weapons to allow it to change the military situation on the ground, leading for a political solution that serves Iran’s interests,” he suggested.

It is indeed a grim prospect, but it is likely to happen.

Gulf countries have no other option but to move quickly and propose a political solution coupled with attractive economic interests to lure western partners before the nuclear deal with Iran is sealed, he argued.

Translated by Racha Makarem

rmakarem@thenational.ae

Updated: March 9, 2015 04:00 AM

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