The evidence is clear that Iran’s scope of influence is extending throughout the region, providing a bubble of control in several keys countries that leads right to the Mediterranean. These countries include #Iraq, #Lebanon, and #Syria. This expansion effort has led to criticism from various foreign leaders, who are calling for greater international intervention, not only with Iran’s regime, but within Syria.
One of these leaders is France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, recently said that Russia and Tehran need to work with the UN Security Council to end the conflict in Syria. He also indicated that France could not accept the Iranian regime’s military expansion into the Mediterranean, as well as accused #Russia of failing to use its influence to push peace talks in Syria, as well as curb the violence in that country.
“The Iranian presence and the desire to make an axis from the Mediterranean to Tehran, (I say) no!” said Le Drian. “There is a Syria that needs to exist.”
Arab leaders have also argued that by fighting the Islamic State and supporting Assad with its military, the regime is projecting its power base across Iraq and Syria into Lebanon. Within Lebanon, Hezbollah has become a political party that acknowledges its financial ties to Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Tensions between Iran and France are continuing to increase, especially in light of French President Emmanuel Macron stating that Tehran should be less aggressive in the Middle East and also clarify its ballistic missile program.
At recent conference entitled “Explosive Conditions in Iran, Mullahs’ Regime in Crises”, which was held in Paris on December 16, Jacques Boutault, Mayor of Paris’ 2nd District, said, “Iran’s regime is trying to impose its control on the economy and political situation in Iraq. We need to ensure that they don’t succeed.”
During this conference, it was highlighted that Iran’s efforts in Syria are part of a larger attempt to exert power throughout the region.
Le Drian has previously sought to avoid taking sides in the Middle East, and also has attempted to improve ties with Russia. Yet, there seems to be a shift happening to force the issue of ending the conflict in Syria. Paris has nuanced its approach to UN-led peace talks in Geneva, indicating that Assad’s departure from power shouldn’t be a pre-condition for negotiations.
“Iran brings its militias, supports (heavily-armed Lebanese Shi’ite group) Hezbollah,” said Le Drian. “Syria must become a sovereign state again and that means (a country) independent of the pressure and presence of other countries.”
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Assad flew into Syria, where Putin ordered Russian troops to start withdrawing. However, Le Drian has been clearly indicating that Russia was not doing enough regarding Syria. At the same time, he has discouraged European nations from following the more radical and confrontational style of the current U.S. President and his administration.
“The main actors in this affair are Russia and Iran. They need to use their weight to lead a political solution with the other members of the Security Council,” said Le Drian. Referring to Assad, Le Drian said, “He is barbaric, but he is there, so we have to start the process that leads to a (new) constitution and elections under the UN. I struggle to imagine that populations who have suffered so much consider him part of the solution.”
One of the key military initiatives of #Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been very active in Syria, along with other nations in the region. Calling for an end to the Syrian conflict means confronting the role of the IRGC, something the international community is finally waking up to.
“The international community has finally acknowledged the dangers and threats posed by the #IRGC albeit long overdue. These statements are a positive step forward but not sufficient to confront the increasing damages caused by this destructive force and the heavy price the nations in the region have paid because of western governments’ appeasement of the regime over so many years,” said Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), at a conference held in Paris on December 16.
She also noted that if the regime was not so internally unstable, it would not have to engage in the various military campaigns going on throughout the region. The recent unrest inside Iran is just another sign that the regime is struggling to maintain its hold on the Iranian people, while its negative influence grows throughout the region.
As part of international efforts to curb the regime’s influence throughout the region, Rajavi noted that the international community needs to recognize the NCRI as a viable democratic alternative to the mullahs’ regime and support their efforts to restore #democracy to Iran. Doing so would allow the region, particularly Syria, to regain its stability.