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Expel the Iranians from Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Well, the quartet proposed by Egypt to solve the Syrian crisis – comprising of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Iran – has convened twice, not just once, and now it is abundantly clear that everyone has realized it does not have any chance of success. This is something I have already highlighted on two occasions, even before the quartet’s first meeting.

It is clear today that everyone realizes there is no hope for this quartet, and the mere invitation of Iran to the negotiation table has rendered it a failure, since Tehran is one of the main obstacles in Syria so how can it be part of the solution? When I say that everyone has realized, this has become apparent from some recent positions, especially with Saudi Arabia being absent from the latest meeting in Cairo. Opinions are now beginning to be voiced out loud about the difficulty of reaching an agreement in light of Iran’s involvement, and official statements are also flowing in this direction, the latest being the statement of the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, who declared that with regards to the Syrian crisis, all doors have been knocked without any success. This was essentially to be expected, for I, and a few others in this newspaper, have been saying this since day one of the Syrian revolution, and no one can continue to be deceived by al-Assad’s tricks forever.

Returning to the quartet, what is important now is that it has confirmed to some Iran’s true intentions towards Syria, and the danger in merely believing that Tehran could be part of the solution. In Cairo, Iran called for observers to be sent to Syria from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Iran itself, and this proposal is extremely serious for Iran is effectively saying to its counterpart regional powers: “Come and divide Syria among ourselves along the lines of Lebanon”. It is difficult now to imagine the formation of a Lebanese government without a compromise between Saudi Arabia, Iran and more recently Turkey. Yet instead of addressing this erroneous situation in Lebanon, Iran wants to apply it in Syria, under an Arab cover and from an Arab capital!

The mere fact that Egypt’s quartet proposal was accepted in the first place means that some in our region still believe in half-baked solutions under weak pretexts such as pragmatism or dealing with the situation realistically, and this is a danger in particular. As I have said repeatedly, Iran is not a neighbor of Syria, nor does Syria’s sectarian composition grant it a right to intervene. The Syrians chant “no to Iran and no to Nasrallah”, whilst we find ourselves trying to give a cover to Iranian influence in Syria, so Iran can proceed with creating a faction there, along the lines of Hezbollah. This is out of the question, and we must be wary of it, especially if Syria descends into a state of total chaos. Then Tehran would seek to create a new source of legitimacy in Syria as it did with Hezbollah in Lebanon, under the pretext of “liberating the occupied territories”, and from now on we must look out for this since no one is seeking to accelerate the fall of al-Assad!

Therefore, I hope now that we are all alert to the danger of Iran in Syria, especially after the quartet’s meeting in Egypt, which was supposed to demand the expulsion of the Quds Force from Syria – after the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards acknowledged their presence there – rather than Tehran calling upon the quartet to send observers. What is actually required is the expulsion of Iran from Syria, instead of legitimizing its interference!