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  Global Views
Rapprochement between Iran and US
Special Contribution
By Prof. Abdelkader Zerougui
American University
Iranian President Hassan Rohani

Bashar Al-assad’s continuous rule, and Syria’s future are organically linked to the future relations between Iran and the United States. Like Iraq, Hizbullah and Hamas, Syria is a strategic ally that Iran is not willing to abandon. The phone call made by the US president Barack Obama to the newly elected Iranian president – Hassan Rohani – 2 weeks ago in New York has produced a wide range of speculations indicating that the US and Iran are stepping their efforts to find a political solution to the nuclear stalemate, and thus sidelining the major supporters of the removal of Bashar Al-assad.

The ravaging civil war in Syria which is entering its 4th year might have caused major destruction to the country, but Al-assad army is no way to be defeated by the radical-Islamist militias. Iran, Russia and China, the main backers of the Syrian regime collided with the Saudi ambitions of breaking the Shiite triangle of Iran, Hizbullah and Iraq, and thus eliminating a perceived threat by the Gulf monarchies from Shiism- the existential enemy of Wahhabism.

Saudi Arabia was the “cheerleader” of the conservative Arab states, which wanted to use the Arab Spring, and the popular revolts in the region to strengthen the Wahhabists and Salafists in the region. Whereas the Gulf states gambled on the removal of Al-assad, as a strategy to encircle Iran, the United States and some European countries were not totally eager to use force against Bashar Al-assad.

The fear of Al-Qaeeda and Islamic emirate in Syria, and the existence of chemical weapons, especially after their use against a civilian population made the echo of war far less acceptable.

The use of force to remove Bashar al-Assad is no longer on the US agenda, especially after the regime agreed to cooperate with the UN to destroy the arsenal of chemical weapons. Syria’s civil war cannot be compared to the revolutions that took place in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The majority of the Syrian population remained outside the conflict, not because of its support to the present regime, but out of fear of the Islamists coming to power, and thus transforming Syria from a secular dictatorship into a rigid theocracy on the Wahhabi model, and the fear for Alawites, druze, and Christian minorities, who enjoyed a fair protection under Bashar’s regime.

Syria’s tragedy is partially reinforced by foreign interventions that seek to establish a new order with no concerns about the “Syrian people” or the future of the region as a whole.

The conflict entered its fourth year with a death toll of more than 100,000, and so far there is no military solution in sight. The proxy-wars between Saudi Arabia and its allies from one side, and Iran and its allies on the other side are the true puppeteers that hold the strings of the Syrian quagmire.

Saudi Minister of Interior expressed deep resentments after the deal with made Russia and the US to allow UN inspectors to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons, and the rapprochement between the US and Iran, and the possibility of engaging into fruitful talks with the Rohani’s government.

Saudi Arabia’ fear of the destabilization of the monarchies in the Gulf by Iran, and its allies precipitated the war in Syria, and turned it into an open military confrontation between the regime forces, and their sponsored foreign mercenaries.

Syria’s regime change meant restraining Iran’s regional ambition in the Gulf. By sidelining Syria, Saudi Arabia hoped to encircle Iran, and diminish its influence in the region. We should not forget the famous statement of king Abdulla of Saudi Arabia in reference to Iran, when he asked the US administration to “cut the head of the snake.”

The United States despite its support for political dialogue and an end to the conflict in Syria, it is constantly reiterating the dangers of Al-Qaeeda, and the Islamists in the region that can lead to Syria’s Talibanization. The US president asked the Senate to suspend the vote for the military intervention in Syria after deep divisions emerged in the Congress and the signs of the unpopularity of military action were felt in the streets. The US secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continuous beard its fruits with the agreement on the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

The Iranian President Hassan Rohani needs to be given full support by the European and American governments in his quest to bring Iran into the world community, as he is coming with a popular mandate to end Iran’s isolation, and end the 30-year economic boycott.



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Prof. Abdelkader Zerougui is an adjunct professor of sociology at American University in Washington DC, where he received his MA and PhD in sociology. Prof. Zerougui’s writings have appeared on many respected media including the Washington Times and The Seoul Times.

 

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