by Staff writer, SF
Iran has been involved in the Syrian civil war from its inception. Iran holds Syria with so much importance with regards to its future plans that it is ready to do whatever it takes.
When the war emerged around 2011, Iran and Assad worked hard to quash all moderate opposition and they attempted to indulge the radical Islamists. This gave the West an impossible choice. Did it want the jihadists or did it want Assad in power?
Iran has tried to make its involvement look like it is a battle against Sunni radicalism. However, in reality, it is much more than this. So much so that Syria is seen as the 35th Iranian province. High officials have admitted that if Iran loses Syria, it will undoubtedly fall out of power in Tehran.
Assad’s collapse would result in the regime’s collapse, hence its desperation and willingness to go as far as it needs in Syria.
Syria also has much strategic importance for Iran as it will serve as access to the Lebanese Hezbollah – Iran’s faithful and powerful proxy.
Some have questioned why Assad is letting Iran take so much power in Iran, with some describing Syria has being “occupied” by Iran. However, the answer is simple – money. Iran is financing the Assad regime and it is certain that it would have toppled many years ago if it has not been for Iran.
This does not mean that Iran has the spare cash to pay for the war. Far from it. The Iranian economy is in tatters and the social conditions are horrific. Nevertheless, the Iranian regime has prioritised the war in Syria because, as mentioned before, without Assad in place in Syria, the regime’s days are over.
Iran’s presence in Syria has been denied by regime officials, but we know this is a lie, not least because the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has admitted that it has lost more than a thousand fighters.
Furthermore, Iran is represented by numerous different proxy forces from across the region, in particular Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan. Iran has been providing foreign fighters with incentives to fight on its behalf in Syria. The Afghans have had a large number of casualties and the regime entices them to war by offering residency in Iran and a few hundred dollars per month. The fighters are often untrained and many have described them as cannon fodder.
It is precisely for the reason that the Iranian regime is so dependant on the war in Syria for its survival that the international community needs to act urgently.
We have already seen that those calling the shots in Syria, so to speak, are prepared to use dirty tactics such as the use of chemical weapons on civilians. Perhaps with the recent US-led airstrike involving France and the United Kingdom, Iran will realise that the appeasement policies have finally ended.
It now just remains for the rest of the world to treat Iran with less impunity and realise that the threat is real.