Abdollahian visit: Iran is present in Syrian regime chaos
Enab Baladi – Hussam al-Mahmoud
The two-day visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to Syria on August 30 carried a set of connotations by the regime, given the time context and the economic crisis and field conditions in Syrian territory as a whole.
In Damascus, Hussein Amir Abdollahian met with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad. The two sides discussed efforts related to the return of Syrian refugees, in addition to the demand for Turkish withdrawal from Syrian lands, and the inevitability of its occurrence as a necessary condition for the return of normal relations between Damascus and Ankara.
Al-Assad pointed out that sound relations between Iran and the Arab countries contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region.
For his part, Abdollahian said that during his meeting with his counterpart, Faisal Mekdad, and the Syrian Prime Minister, Hussein Arnous, they discussed the path of implementing the agreements between the two countries during the Iranian president’s previous visit to Damascus.
He also stressed the need to strictly follow up and implement the agreements reached, according to Fars News Agency.
This visit was preceded, on July 30, by another visit that Mekdad made to Iran. In addition to politics, it carried an economic dimension, which was translated by the presence of other officials from the regime’s government, including the Minister of Economy.
Also, Abdollahian visited Saudi Arabia two weeks before the Damascus visit, in light of the presence of conflicting indications about the nature of the relationship between the Saudi kingdom and the Syrian regime, after receiving al-Assad at the May-19 Jeddah summit and talking about the disruption of the path of Arab normalization with al-Assad, in the face of the absence of the response required by the Damascus regime.
No comfort zone
The field reality does not constitute a comfort zone for the regime or the Iranians in Syria, in view of a possible US military operation in northeastern Syria on the border line separating Iraq and Syria to cut off the route of the pro-Iranian militias.
The American moves were read by the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, that there is an order to be implemented in Syria, referring to the closure of the land, sea, and airfields to the Syrian regime earlier, with the exception of Iraq, which enabled the regime to “resist.”
Closing these borders, in al-Maliki’s opinion, means completing the siege and stirring up the situation in the south, in addition to the situation in northwestern Syria and the east of the Euphrates, which he considered an intention for a movement against the “Syrian Republic,” to change or overthrow the regime.
At the same time, the southern region of Syria, where Iranian attention is focused on the border with the occupied Palestinian territories, is witnessing protests demanding the overthrow of the Syrian regime.
Mustafa al-Nuaimi, an expert in Iranian affairs, explained to Enab Baladi that the recent American moves and the strengthening of the military capabilities of the Fifth Fleet forces deployed in Bahrain, all the way to the ground forces deployed in both Syria and Iraq, are all indicators that there is an inevitable American confrontation with Iran.
In al-Nuaimi’s opinion, the Iranian political, military, and economic scrambling and fixing Syria’s debt to Iran comes in the same context.
“Iran may be looking to invest in all files simultaneously. On the military level, Iranian “Mohajer-4” planes are flying in Syria, identifying targets south of Idlib and in Jabal al-Zawiya,” the expert says.
The majority of military supplies and offensive ammunition arrive at the Ayn al-Asad base in Iraq, indicating a new scene that everyone may be anticipating. It is possible that force will be used or new names used to clash with Iran if it obstructs any American convoy, for example, since the region is heating up and the United States is waiting for ignition.
Al-Nuaimi referred to the continuation of the movements in southern Syria and the Israeli bombing of the Syrian airports, which are indicators and messages that fall within the same context, escalation, and the US strategy that is heading towards creating a new variable in the region.
Regarding Abdollahian’s visit to Beirut immediately before Damascus and to Riyadh two weeks before his visit to Syria, the Iranian affairs expert linked these moves to drawing calm in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to restore relations.
“The return of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran may be an attempt to conduct a truce with the Saudi side, trying in some of its axes to show some flexibility while investing the highest levels of escalation with all the components that it considers hotbeds of conflict,” the expert added.
Towards more isolation with the Arabs
The Syrian regime continues to deepen its relations with Iran, in conflict with Arab efforts for a political solution in Syria, in accordance with the Arab-driven Jordanian initiative, which clearly addresses preserving Arab identity, reducing Iran’s military presence in Syria, and restoring the real estate and property it has seized in Syrian territory.
Despite the fact that the Syrian regime proceeded in a formal way, through exemplary statements on the path of the initiative, which was supported by the statement of the Jeddah summit, the meeting of the Arab Ministerial Liaison Committee took place on August 15.
In the same context, in order to move the “crisis” towards a comprehensive solution, what is happening on the ground contradicts what was stated in the initiative at various levels, especially the relationship with the Iranians, and as recognized by al-Assad.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News Arabia on August 9, al-Assad said, “The relationship with Russia and the relationship with Iran proved that Syria knows how to choose its friends correctly.”
Al-Assad also acknowledged that the Israeli bombing of sites in Syria controlled by his forces, under the title of “Iranian presence,” will continue as long as Israel is an enemy, he said.
In the midst of flirting with Tehran, al-Assad considered that Arab-Arab relations since the formation of his “political awareness” four decades ago were “formal” relations.
While receiving Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi last May, al-Assad said, “When an unjust war (with Iraq) was waged against Iran in 1980 for eight years, Syria did not hesitate to stand by Iran despite the threats and temptations at that time.”
Al-Assad indicated that Iran did the same when the “war” was waged in Syria and increased its sacrifices, according to him.
The head of the Syrian regime also described the relationship with Iran as “rich in definition, rich in content, rich in experiences, and rich in the vision it has formed.”
This came after he spoke about the nature of the relationship with Iran as well when he indicated in an interview with the Russia Today channel in mid-March that the Syrian arena is no longer a place of Iranian-Saudi conflict, as it was at some stages and by some parties.
“Talk about severing the Syrian-Iranian relationship has no longer been raised with Syria for many years. I think there is an understanding of the nature of this relationship,” al-Assad added.
He also spoke of a four-decade-old “loyalty” between Syria and Iran, which is the same idea that he reaffirmed during his reception with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
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