Ahmadinejad Praises al-Assad For the Way He Handled Unrest
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday praised the Syrian leadership for the way they handled the uprising against them that started more than a year ago and cost, according to the estimates of the United Nations, more than 8,500 people.
According to the Iranian media, Tehran will do everything in its power to help the Syrian ally contain the situation in the field. During a meeting with Syrian envoy Faisal Meqdad, the Iranian president expressed his satisfaction that the things in Syria progressed well, and that the authorities did manage the situation well.
Iran, which is a Shiite country, backed popular uprisings in the Arab countries like Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya, most of them Sunni countries, during the Arab Spring, but has been supportive of the regime in Syria, where the leadership confesses the Alawite doctrine, which is an offshoot of the Shiite Islam.
Ahmadinejad said that there was no limit to the support of his country for Syria and that Iran would do “all in its power” to support Syria. Last year, Ahmadinejad tempered his rhetoric about Syria after the protests in March turned violent and the killing began.
He supported at first wholeheartedly the way Assad was handling the situation, but when the situation became critical, he advised Bashar al-Assad to implement social and political reforms in his country and to take into account the popular grievances.
He also accused the Western powers of plotting with the Arab countries to topple al-Assad and to bolster the status of Israel in the region. Ahmadinejad said that “by chanting false slogans of defending people’s freedom,” America wants to take control over Syria, Lebanon and Iran. He urged the countries that could suffer from this policy to stay alert.
The Iranian president did not make any reference to the U.N.-Arab League plan proposed by Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary general and special envoy to Syria, by which a total ceasefire is being proposed but without asking for the ouster of Bashar al-Assad, like the previously U.N. resolutions had done.
The western countries have accused Iran last week of shipping weapons to Syria to support the crackdown. Israeli website Debkafile reports that thousands of pro-Palestinian activists are being send from Iran to Syria, and that these activists are meant to put pressure on Israeli northern border.
Previous reports were saying that up to 15,000 al-Quds were being sent to Syria to help the government. The reports were never independently confirmed. Ahmadinejad’s remarks were made shortly before the arrival of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is expected to arrive in Tehran and discuss the Iranian nuclear file and the development in Syria.
Unlike Iran, who is supporting Syria, Turkey has voiced its concern over the latest developments, and even the preoccupation to set a buffer zone in the border region with Syria. Turkey has received some 17,000 refugees from Syria, who have fled their homes after the regime started storming cities with armored vehicles, tanks and heavy weaponry.
Istanbul was the city that hosts the Syrian National Council, an umbrella which contains all the opposition group in the Syrian society. A major congress is to be held in Istanbul on April 1, with the opposition demanding the western backers to offer them more support in their fight against Syria’s Assad.
APF reports that at least 200 Syrian people arrive at the Turkish border each day, and even presents people who say that Turkey should intervene in Syria. “Erdogan, save us!” APF quotes people to say.
Turkey said that it wanted to have an international legal framework before intervening on Syrian territory, which is sure to anger Russia and China, the two powerful ally of Syria, which have opposed two resolutions of the United Nations.
The situation in Syria becomes more critical every day, and the governmental forces were reported passing into Lebanon on Tuesday in their hunt of rebels. 20 people were said to have been killed on Tuesday alone, as the regime announced that it had accepted Kofi Annan’s proposal.
In Istanbul, during a meeting of the Syrian National Council, the unity of the opposition was broken by the walk out of two iconic opponents of the regime. They complained that their voice was not heard by the council.
The Syrian National Council was established very hard, because the people of Syria have a large religious and ethnic diversity, and divides exist between them most of the time. It is one reason why the regime in Syria was able to hold on for so long, in spite of the magnitude of the protest.
This diversity could explain the fact that the regime in Damascus was able to organize rallies in favor of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia and other major cities in the country.
Iran needs to maintain the regime in Damascus as a safeguard for its own national security. Iran is under a lot of pressure from the international community to stop its nuclear program, and it may be subjected to a military strike executed by the Israeli air force, and possibly by the U.S. air force.
The regime in Tehran needs to keep control of the area, given that Syria also assures the contact with Hezbollah, the Islamist movement in Lebanon that has been fighting Israel for decades.
Russia, which is a regional ally of both Syria and Iran, fears that a possible intervention of the western powers in Syria would contribute to encircle Iran from all sides so that a possible military attack on it have more chances of success. The United Nations has estimated that some 8,500 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian revolution. There are reports that the latest death toll is of more than 9,000 people.
The Syrian regime insists on the thesis exposed on Tuesday by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that the country was subject to an international conspiracy that aims at toppling the regime. Bashar al-Assad never spoke of bolstering Israeli interest in the region.
The European Union and the United States of America have imposed some sanctions against some of the leaders of Syria. By those sanctions assets were frozen and traveling privileges have been revoked.
The decision has included the presidential wife Asma Assad, a British-Syrian citizen who was denied the right to visit European Union space. Her British passport allows her though to visit Britain.11