Bob Feferman
Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)

The Price of Indifference

The heart wrenching picture of the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi who drowned along with other Syrian refugees in their attempt to reach Europe should be a message to the world: This is the price of your indifference to Iran’s role in the tragedy of Syria.

The silence of the international community over Iran’s support for the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad is the missing story of the refugee crisis and the recently clinched Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1.

By disconnecting the so-called “non-nuclear issues” from the nuclear deal, the JCPOA will permit Iran to direct the massive relief from economic sanctions it will be receiving to bolster the Assad regime and its ongoing crimes against humanity.

Through their failure to hold Iran accountable for the Syria tragedy, the P5+1 have relegated the suffering of millions of Syrian civilians to the status of a “non-nuclear issue” that was only given lip service by the JCPOA.

One of the most striking clauses found in the preamble of the Iran nuclear deal reads, “The E3/EU+3 and Iran reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations as set out in the UN Charter”. It is striking because nowhere in the JCPOA are there any consequences for Iran’s failure to live up to the UN Charter.

The preamble to the UN Charter demands that member nations “… reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”

In fact, Iran’s role in Syria is a stark and clear violation of the UN Charter. Today, the ruthless dictator Bashar al-Assad is still in power, there are more than 250,000 dead Syrians and more than four million refugees for two reasons: Iran and its loyal proxy, Hezbollah.

Since the outbreak of the popular uprising in Syria in 2011, Iran has provided massive financial support, an endless supply of ammunition and weapons, and dedicated thousands of Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard fighters to keeping Bashar al-Assad in power. This makes Iran complicit in aiding and abetting the Assad regime in committing crimes against humanity.

The world cannot claim that it did not know about Iran’s role in Syria. United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), among many others, has provided detailed documentation of Iranian involvement in the Syrian calamity.

In 2013, New Yorker magazine published an in-depth profile of General Qassem Suleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who has spearheaded the Iranian intervention in Syria.

In the article, reporter Dexter Filkins described the pivotal role that Iran is playing under Suleimani’s leadership. He wrote, “Suleimani began flying into Damascus frequently so that he could assume personal control of the Iranian intervention. ‘He’s running the war himself,’ an American defense official told me”.

In addition, the world cannot claim it did not know about Bashar al-Assad and his crimes.

In her 2014 speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial, America’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power said, “President Assad is deliberately targeting his own people – using indiscriminate air attacks, introducing the world to barrel bombs, denying civilians food in starvation campaigns and practicing systematic, industrial torture – all of this to force the Syrian people to submit to his will.”

If you still have any doubts, look at the evidence now on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial.

Following the revelations of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on Syrian civilians in 2013, President Obama told the world, “When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory.”

With the implementation of the JCPOA, the international community will indeed look the other way, even as the gruesome pictures continue to come out of Syria.

As major multinational companies now line up to return to business-as-usual with Iran, we must remind them of this fact: Bashar al-Assad continues to murder his own citizens with the direct support of Iran. And the pictures of the dead body of Aylan Kurdi, and the millions of refugees fleeing Syria, should serve as an indictment of the world’s indifference to Iran’s responsibility for crimes against humanity.

About the Author
Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group that seeks to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons. UANI’s private sanctions campaigns and state and Federal legislative initiatives focus on ending the economic and financial support of the Iranian regime to compel Iran to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program, support for terrorism and gross human rights violations.