We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats
PARIS, 21 Feb. (IPS) The proposed alliance between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Arab Republic of Syria aimed a thwarting threats from the United States is more a hoax than a serious project, Iranian analysts said.
"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats", Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref assured last week after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari in Tehran.
"Our Syrian brothers are facing specific threats and we hope they can benefit from our experience. We are ready to give them any help necessary", Mr Aref said told reporters, stopping short to specify what kind of assistance the Islamic Republic can bring Syria, as the two countries are badly isolated in the international scene, are extremely unpopular at home and have weak armies, equipped with ageing weapons.
According to the Iranians, the proposal for a Syrian-Iranian front was made by Mr. Otari during his visit to Tehran, where he arrived one day after the assassination of Mr. Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Premier on 16 February.
But Washington said that if Iran and Syria had aimed their remarks at the US they were "misreading the issue".
The two countries have a strategic alliance established in 1980 after the Arab Republic of Syria took alone the side of non Arab Iran when it that was attacked by the now toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and both are supporting the Lebanese Hezbollah organization against Israel and moderate Palestinians.
“This is like a blind offering his services to another blind”, said Mr. Ali Keshtgar, an Iranian dissident activist living in Paris, adding that the proposed alliance is in total contradiction with the sentiments of the Lebanese people calling for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from their country.
American and international pressures over Syria soared after Monday's killing of Mr. Hariri in a bombing. Without accusing officially Damascus for the assassination, Washington has recalled its ambassador from Syria as a result of culmination of a "long series of problems" with Syria.
Washington is considering new sanctions against Syria because of its refusal to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon.
US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, visiting Beirut for Mr Hariri's funeral on Wednesday, called for a "complete and immediate withdrawal".
According to Iranian travelers, the news of firing a missile on the nuclear reactor of Bushehr, by the Arabic service of the Iranian Radio and Television was itself an Iranian maneuver to divert tensions from Damascus to something else, as the information had caused an immediate soaring of oil prices.
But if the creation of an axis between Iran and Syria looks possible in theory, a proposal presented earlier by the Iranians, including Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Iranian regime’s number two man in command to form an axis made of Tehran, Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus falls in the domain of outright foolishness, observers points out.
“Iran and Syria should focus on meeting their international obligations”, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, adding, "Their problem is not with the United States, it's with the international community. Both Syria and Iran ... need to abide by the commitments they have made," he said.
This is like a blind offering his services to another blind
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Tehran was not very happy with the visit of Mr. Otari at a time that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese were demonstrating against Syria.
Asked about the project by reporters, Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister downplayed its importance, observing that while the two nations have both common enemies and mutual interests, but the creation of such an axis is not “their primary objective”.
“Contrary to what Mr. Kharazi and his masters pretend, there are no common interests between Iran and Syria the same as we have no common enemies”, Mr. Keshtgar says.
In fact, while the Syrians are profiting handsomely from the ruling ayatollah’s largesse, their allegiances always goes to their Arab brothers, as seen from the dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over the three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf, where Damascus always votes in favour of the oil-rich Sheihkdom.
“The Arab Israeli conflict has nothing to do with our interests, as the Iranians are not against America or Israel. The day Israel gets out of the Golan Heights; Syria would immediately recognize the Jewish State. As for the Palestinians, they are already talking to the Israelis and the Jordanians and the Egyptians have already established formal diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. The question is that why Iran should take the side of the terrorists? Why should Iran deny the existence of Israel? Why should Iran continue hostilities with the United States”, Mr. Keshtgar asked. ENDS SYRIA IRAN 21205