The real winner is Iran

Ayatollah Khamenei has declared on several occasions to consider Syria as an Iranian province: it’s true considering his tentacle-like designs.

It has already cost more than a thousand precious lives of his Revolutionary Guards, but he thinks it’s worth every last drop of blood.
The Assad Dynasty has been aligned with Iran ever since its war with Iraq: it’s a valuable ally because of its strategic borders (Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, the Mediterranean…) and at present it’s the crux of the global war. Being there makes you essential to Russia, the United States, and to all those that want political order and stability in the region.

It forces world powers to see Iran neither as a rogue state nor as a country with one of the world’s most abysmal human rights record. Moreover, it further compels them to ignore its ambitions of military expansion and not to view it as a danger to the entire world due to its a state sponsorship of terrorism, chieflyHezbollah.

Yet, how can Iran triumph as an indispensible player except through the use of force and extreme brutality? Aleppo, whose green buses will remain as symbols of the worst cruelty of a war carried out by a dictator who now cheerfully speaks about a historic turning point, has offered a fantastic opportunity to the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Iran’s expansive and imperialist policy, along with its ability in murdering civilians, has exerted itselfin Aleppo. Russia, in fact, has sought to maintain a distinguished role throughout the long battle in Syria without soiling its boots and has sent “Iranian groups” to do the dirty work of ethnic cleansing.

The latter have applied their own criteria by blocking internally displaced peoples at checkpoints and have failed to uphold agreements reached with rebel groups. Presently, they‘re upping the ante in order to take over two Shiite enclaves near the city of Idlib, the last rebel-led stronghold in Syria.

The Iranians have become the leaders of all Shiites within the region: Lebanese Hezbollah, but also Syrians, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Afghans. Moreover, Europe should attempt to understand what iscurrentlygoing on in the Middle East, especially with regard all those Sunnis who are now fleeing from Shiite troops who aredetermined to drive them out. Iran has deployed more than 20 thousand Iranians and 50 thousand non-Iranians. Furthermore, it pays monthly salaries to more than 250 thousand militiamen and agents, 20 thousand of which are Afghans.
Hezbollah contributes 7000 to 10,000 while Pakistanis and Palestinians account foran additional7000. The Revolutionary Guards are 10 thousand, 6000 of which originate from the regular Iranian Army. In December 2015, Khamenei said that it was necessary to not only strengthen Iran’s presence in Syria, but also to prevent Assad’s defeat.

Iran has provided air support to Russia and hasspent to date about $100 million in the Syrian War. Italso pays the salaries of Iraqi soldiers. More troubling, however, is the fact that Iran is sending“maddahan,” namely religious singers, to Syria not only to boost the morale of fighters, but also to frame the war there in religious terms and a Shiite one at that.

It’s clearly evident to all world powers by nowthat Iran’s support to Assad foments a conflict that has already left 450 thousand people dead and which is likely never to end unless Assad- pressured by a U.S.-Russian agreement – steps aside. Iran must be urged to abandon its role as a protagonist if we wantthe war to stop. It’s a danger to everyone, including Europe.

The problem, however, is that nobody really cares about Syria except for Putin who has turned Iran into one of his proxies.

Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (December 17, 2016)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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