To many Syrians, Iran Deal is far from peace

To many Syrians, Iran Deal is far from peace
5 min read
29 Jul, 2015
Celebrating the nuclear deal as a chance for peace overshadows the fact that a brutal regime allied to Iran will have more resources to kill, argues Sam Hamad.
The Iranian regime has lifted Assad up with every economic or military setback (Getty)

While many have welcomed the recent nuclear deal between the major powers and Iran as being a triumph of diplomacy over war, it is no surprise that the Syrians under the mercy of Iran-backed Assad regime have a completely different view on the matter.

In fact, they have every right to a different view. Selling this deal as a "peace deal" to any Syrian affected by the on-going war in Syria is a difficult task, to say the least.

Whether those who celebrate the deal as "a chance for peace" like it nor not, one of the immediate consequences of Iran's sanctions relief will be more resources allocated to Iran's allies in the region, most notoriously: Bashar al-Assad.

The deal will free up more resources to be expended on the Irania regime’s intervention in the Syrian civil war on the side of Assad, who has become increasingly dependent on Iranian support and manpower.

Implications on Syrian civilians

What does further support for Assad from the Iranian regime mean in concrete terms? It means more barrel bombs indiscriminately thrown at residential areas. It means more missiles, chlorine bombs, tanks, and more direct intervention from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

It also means more weaponry put in the hands of sectarian proxies and mercenaries from Iraq to Lebanon. In short, it means the prolonging of a 5-year long war that killed hundreds of thousands and stirred up a sectarian hornets nest in the form of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

     Selling this deal as a "peace deal" to any Syrian affected by the on-going war in Syria is a difficult task, to say the least.

The sustainability of such sectarian nests, especially IS, is based on a sectarian culture boosted and reinforced by Assad's atrocities against Sunni-dominated residential areas under opposition control.

Two days ago, President Assad declared that "Syria is not for those who have a Syrian identity or passport, it is for those who defend it".

Dani Qappani, who works with the opposition Media Office of Moadamiyah in Syria, cited Assad to point out the hypocrisy in consenting to the occupation of large swathes of Syrian territory by Iranian forces while preaching on who is Syrian and who is not.

In that context, the Syrians fear that the nuclear deal won't only lead to an increase in the Iranian resources allocated to a brutal regime, but also will lead to tacit and systematic legitimisation of Iranian role in Syria by the "international community".

Qappani added that while Iran has so far been "a great unseen supporter of Assad", after this deal it won’t be ashamed to help Assad "in front of the entire world".

The "Friends of Syria" or the abusers of Syria?

The idea of Syrians being worried about the so-called "Friends of Syria" abandoning them is not something that should be scoffed at. It is precisely because of the scale of the Iranian intervention against the Syrian revolution that the rebels had no other way but to look for external support.

Yet, external support neither comes in for free nor out of state benevolence. The plight of the Syrian people has too often been subordinated to the machinations of geopolitical actors.

For instance, the US-led "international coalition" against IS denies the objective fact that Assad's violence has caused more death and destruction that IS. Not only that, but the international coalition actively shares air space with Assad's Air Force.

The vast majority of Arab peoples in general and the Syrian people in specific were never concerned about Iran having nuclear capability. In fact, the "threat" of a nuclear Iran is a manufactured threat. It is an obsession of West governments, as well as the leaders of other regional powers, namely Saudi Arabia and, of course, Israel.

It’s easy, amidst the horrors of the Syrian war, to get drawn into a two-dimensional and myopic outlook. It’s perfectly understandable given that there are two dominant camps in the Syrian war - those fighting to overthrow Assad and those seeking to keep him in power.

The Iranian regime is blatantly part of the camp protecting Assad. While Iran's despicable role in Syria will not be forgotten, it is also important to remember that Iran, just like Syria, is more than a brutal regime.

     The plight of the Syrian people has too often been subordinated to the machinations of geopolitical actors.

Iran has a rich and diverse society that is riven by as many complexities and contradictions as any other. Indeed, the Iranian blogger Javaad Alipoor points out that the Iranian public opinion on intervention in Syria is mixed, with views ranging from "anti-Arab proto-imperialist bigotry" to "a sense of solidarity with others fighting a non-democratic regime".

Syrians in solidarity with oppressed Iranians

The lifting of the sanctions is a straight up "victory" for the regime and its interventionism in Syria. But, at the same time, it may serve to intensify these social differences.

Alipoor also makes the point that much of what the Iranian regime does and gets away with is done under the name of "resisting sanctions" and fostering this idea that all of its actions, including what is clearly offensive action against the Syrian revolution, are down to it being under siege by the West.

The nuclear deal will deprive the regime from this excuse. In other words, as Alipoor puts it, "a generation who participated in the Green Movement … has been sold the line that Soleimani [Commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force] is defending them from genocidal anti-Shia fanatics in Syria, with the West supporting them … let’s see how long those claims can last now".

Knowing all that, the Syrian are aware that their concerns regarding the nuclear deal do not go in line with Israel's anti-Iran propaganda, nor US hardliners. Instead, the Syrians understand that supporting the indiscriminate and inhumane sanctions on Iran hit Iran's most vulnerable.

At the heart of the Syrian revolution is solidarity with the oppressed and the marginalised. Iranians oppressed by their regime or targeted by international sanctions are not an exception to that.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.