Iran and Israel ‘join forces’ to support the Syrian regime as election nears

Iran and Israel are joining forces in a bid to clear the name of their favourite candidate, Bashar Al Assad, in the upcoming Syrian elections, according to columnists in Al Hayat and Asharq Al Awsat

As the presidential election draws near in Syria, Iran and Israel are attempting to clear the name of their favourite candidate, Bashar Al Assad, argued Hassan Haydar, a columnist with the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The statements coming out of Iran and Israel have revealed a support for Mr Al Assad on the grounds that he is the best guarantor of “regional stability”, the writer said.

Yahya Safavi, the adviser to the Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former chief of the Revolutionary Guard, has said that Iran’s front line now lies in southern Lebanon, north of Israel’s border. Mr Safavi said Iran’s support for the Assad regime is legitimate because it is part of the conflict with Israel on whose borders Iranians claim to stand.

Similarly, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has said that Tehran’s policy has “taken away comfort” from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In this fake muscle-flexing exercise, Israelis are also singing the same tune, he wrote.

Benny Gantz, the chief of the general staff of Israeli defence forces, said that Hizbollah’s rockets can reach all Israeli cities. Israeli officers also said that their country was not completely ready for a war that might erupt at any moment.

As such, no one should dare question Hizbollah’s activities in Al Qalamoun, Rif Dimashq Governorate, Homs and Aleppo, because it is preparing to invade Israel, Haydar noted.

This Israeli-Iranian harmony is being supported by the US, because Washington also wants the Assad regime to stay on. It fears that his absence would allow extremists to take over. That can pose a danger to its interests, as well as to those of its ally, Israel. What matters now to the US is reconciliation with Tehran, oil flow and Iran’s market.

These are the reasons why these three countries are trying to show that Mr Al Assad is crucial to the stability of the region, the writer said.

Hazem Saghieh argued in Al Hayat that Iran is trying to convince the world that there are two options from which it has to choose: a Shiite-Alawite camp that involves elections and a Sunni camp pitted against it that involves terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Through its Syrian and Iraqi agents, Iran’s manoeuvre seeks to get the western world to believe that Tehran is serious about combating terrorism.

Under Tehran’s strategy, the Assad government is a bulwark against terrorism, and so is Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki.

Mr Al Assad, according to the regime’s propaganda, is running for the first democratic battle in the country’s recent history.

In reality, however, the imminent Syrian elections are a recipe for a more destructive civil war in and around the country. And with millions displaced within Syria and beyond, as well as many areas under the control of the rebels, more than half of the electorate will not cast their ballots.

Yet, the plan for the elections remain in place, because they were meant to grant legitimacy to the regime. Mr Al Assad is competing with 10 “nameless” candidates, and the Iraqi elections seek to earn a third term for the government of Nouri Al Maliki.

The Syrian opposition figure Michel Kilo wrote in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat that the statements of Syrian officials, who support Mr Al Assad’s candidacy, are extremely provocative.

Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Muqdad, has said that the re-election of Mr Assad is necessary to guarantee the existence of Syria.

But how can someone who has reduced Syria to ruins be a guarantor of its survival?

People would rather believe Mr Muqdad if he said that Mr Al Assad is the guarantor of Israel’s survival by destroying his own country. The same is true for Iran, which is sending fighters to shed Syrian blood. Another term for Mr Al Assad will only destroy what remains of Syria. Mr Al Assad and Syria are mutually exclusive, he said.

Translated by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni

Aezzouitni@thenational.ae

Published: May 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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