There is no mystery behind the Syrian regime’s survival even after it lost control of most parts of the country and the opposition forces could march into Damascus. It is because Iraq supplies the regime with financial support, fuel and safe land crossings.
Even when the revolutionaries cut the regime’s major supply line from Iraq with the closure of the Al-Bokomal crossing, Iraq opened an air corridor for the Iranian planes to bring in the supplies that resuscitated Assad’s forces. Iraq’s major role in the regime’s war against people is also affirmed by the observations of the Iraqi telecommunications about planes crossing its airspace. There is also evidence to support a tripartite agreement of cooperation between Iran, Syria and Iraq.
The political line of support for the Syrian people is now clearly marked. While Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Turkey are with the Syrian people, Iran and Iraq, and with a lesser role Sudan and Algeria, stand by the regime.
Iraq’s choosing to play a precarious role by supporting a sinking regime may be the result of the increasing pressure from Iran. It is quite natural that Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri Al-Maliki yields to Iran’s pressure, as he is indebted to Iran. This forced Iraq’s Shiite parties to vote for Al-Maliki in the last election. This is why Al-Maliki is keen to execute any bidding of Iran, even if that poses a serious threat to his fragile government.
Because of Iran’s increasing demands, Baghdad will, however, have to unveil its mask and acknowledge its alliance with Tehran and serve as an Iranian tool and source of funding. This is what we Arabs have known all along, but Americans refused to believe it. The US has been viewing Al-Maliki’s collaboration with Iran as a political expediency and not an alliance.
Now the U.S. has started noticing the close ties between the two countries, including Iraq’s help to launder Iran’s oil money, financial support to Assad besides opening an air corridor to help Syrian forces. Al-Maliki should realize the present status of Assad and the real situation in Syria. Because of the enormity of his crimes, Assad will not be able, under any circumstance, to continue in power. Those who support Assad will be viewed as accomplices in the crime. Lebanon provides enough proof for that. Even a revival of the Assad regime cannot last long. It is Al-Maliki who has prolonged Assad’s life. A paradox in the current situation is that Assad used to, in the past, strive to cut short the life of the Iraqi regime with his support for Al-Qaeda and Iraqi armed militias. This dichotomy could be understood only from the perspective of Iranian strategies that wanted to control Iraq through Syria, using armed militias and next time using Al-Malki.
The Syrian president follows the Iranian footsteps in foreign relations by striving to win the support of the new Egyptian government. It was reported in the Al-Ahram Weekly that Assad blamed the Kingdom for the Arab defeat in the 1967 war. One wonders how Assad Jr. can speak authoritatively about a war that occurred when he was a child of not more than 10 years. The funny part of his allegation is that his father Assad Sr. was the defense minister responsible for conducting the war and hence responsible for the defeat. Assad Sr.’s stand after the defeat was suspicious. He clashed with Syrian ruler Salah Jadeed over the issue.
Assad Sr. criticized Jadeed for the performance of the defense ministry during the war, particularly the Syrian pull out and making an announcement of the fall of a strategic location to the Israeli forces even before the actual fall occurred. In fact, Hafiz Assad conspired in the war against his country and against his own leader and shortly wrested for power in a revolution. This is the true story of Hafiz Assad and the history of the Arab defeat in 1967. After the war, President Gamal Abdul Nasser punished his defense minister Abdul Hakeem Amir for the defeat. The minister was later found assassinated in his cell, or it was not clear whether he committed suicide. The Syrian defense minister responsible for the defeat was rewarded with presidency of the country.
(The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in Arab News on Sept. 23, 2012)