For years, Syria has been in a state of civil war, as groups attempt to end the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Under his rule, there have been accusations of human rights violations, reduced or no economic improvements and political oppression. The Syrian people have said that it is enough.
Various factions have become embroiled in the conflict, as groups join themselves with Assad or with the groups fighting for his removal. One of the key contenders in this conflict has been Iran. They have sent troops to aid Assad, while at the same time, encouraging fundamentalist attacks on the people and troops of the opposition.
Haitham al-Maleh, Chairman of the Legal Committee of the Syrian National Council, recently remarked that although he had been part of a delegations’ committee focused on finding a solution for Syria, Russia has continued to block some of the decisions by the Security Council.
The human cost of the ongoing conflict can be measured in lives lost, over 500,000 women and children alone. Prisoners are continued victims of rape and torture, even death. The Syrian people, like those in Iran, are bearing the brunt of the fight against these oppressive regimes.
Mrs. Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), asserted her solidarity and support of the Syrian opposition to end Assad’s bloodshed, saying that the “Syrian people are not alone.” Many Syrian dignitaries were part of a recent conference held in Paris at the end of November, which focused on judicial and democratic methods to end the regimes within Iran and Syria. Iran’s involvement in Syria was also highlighted.
Iran has continued to send in troops to support Assad, as part of a larger force of over 95,000 people who are fighting against the Syrian opposition. This force has been primarily paid for by either Rouhani or Putin. The strategy of Russia and Iran is clearly to keep Assad in power, no matter what the cost to the Syrian people. Instability has become normal in cities throughout Syria. Brita Haji Hasan, Head of the Aleppo city Council, stated at a recent event in Paris that there are 45 different militias recorded in the region and all are claiming authority over the people in those areas.
The Iranian regime’s objective seems to be an exporting of terrorism and fundamentalism, whose target of late is Syria. The country’s administration and finances have collapsed, meaning that cities are running themselves and Iran has taken over several cities within Syria. Without Iran’s support, Assad would be unable to keep his administration alive. Simply put, if the Iranian regime was removed from Syria and their influence mitigated, there is the possibility that the Assad dictatorship could end.
Before 2012, Iran was playing a role in Syria, but since 2012, Iran has stepped up with the claim that they were protecting religious spaces within Syria, but in fact, they were giving ISIS room to grow and evolve. By paying mercenaries to go to war, Iran contributed to the instability of the region, all while claiming to want to be a partner in stabilizing Syria.
Since May 2016, it has been documented that Iranian troops have been part of the attack on Aleppo, as well as the Iranian regime bankrolling Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. While the global community, led by the United States, continues to see Iran’s involvement as part of the political intervention needed in the region, the NCRI continues to point to Iran as a source of discord and conflict in the region.
Anas Abdah, President of the Syrian Coalition, urged the new U.S. administration to take action in Syria to end the conflict and the devastating bombing campaign that Assad and Russia have been conducting against civilians through Syria and Aleppo. Assad’s regime has been noted by President Obama as using “barbarous tactics” to fight the Syrian opposition, including bombing his own people.
Iran and Russia have both profited from the diplomatic void created by the cessation of U.S.-Russian negotiations to resolve the conflict using military options. Now members of the Syrian Opposition are calling for the international community to hold all war criminals accountable for their actions by any legal means available at the international level. Mr. Abdah has also called on President-elect Trump to have a balanced approach to the Syrian conflict, including condemning foreign intervention in the conflict, such as Iran and Russia.
The international community will have to raise the diplomatic stakes to achieve a cease fire in Syria, but one of the key points to any agreement is that Iran must withdraw from Syria. Their continued involvement in support of Assad has led to the increasing death toll of civilians and the support of terrorism.
The Syria people have the right to choose their leadership, not foreign powers that continue to provide support and prop up the Assad regime. The United States’ policy of appeasement with Iran has not led to many changes in that regime and is unlikely to stop them from meddling in the affairs of the region. Policy changes need to occur and the global community needs to take a stand for the sake of the Syrian people, who are paying the ultimate price for this conflict.