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Michel asks for clarification while al-Assad asks for support! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tehran’s ambassador to Lebanon wanted to rectify the statement made by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp [IRGC] commander regarding the presence of his forces in Lebanon and Syria. But the envoy fell into a trap of his own making and he unintentionally revealed that Iranian forces are truly present in Syria in order to suppress the unarmed Syrians and support al-Assad!

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman asked Iranian ambassador, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, for an official clarification of these statements. Against this backdrop, an official presidential statement was issued from Lebanon saying that the ambassador denied this, clarifying that the IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari’s answer was in response to the situation in Syria. In other words, the Quds Forces are present in Syria, but not Lebanon. However we must note that IRGC commander’s statement was clear and he acknowledged the presence of the Quds Force – which is affiliated to the IRGC –in both Syria and Lebanon, adding “we just give them our experience, advice and intellectual assistance.”

The paradox in the Iranian envoy’s clarification is that he implicitly acknowledged the presence of the Quds Force in Syria. Another paradox is that what has happened in Syria today on the ground clarifies that the situation has changed and the balance of power is no longer the same; otherwise how can we explain the Lebanese president summoning the Iranian ambassador to his palace and asking for official clarification about these Iranian statements, while al-Assad is asking for support? Indeed the situation has gone beyond asking for support, for it is clear today that Iran is steering the situation in Syria. Therefore the commander of the IRGC issued a statement acknowledging the presence of the Quds Force in Syria without paying heed to any potential consequences, and without thinking how these statements could embarrass al-Assad!

What is clear today, following the statements of the IRGC commander, is that Iran is more embarrassed than al-Assad himself. Ever since Jafari’s statement, Iran has been trying to deal with this crisis that it created itself. In the beginning, the IRGC commander – on camera– said that his country has no intention to intervene in Syria in the event that foreign forces intervene there. This is what prompted Iran to issue a statement saying that the IRGC’s comments were taken out of context. While today, we see the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon also trying to address the IRGC’s commander’s comments regarding the presence of the Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria; however he also fell into a trap of his own making, as he implicitly acknowledged the presence of Iranian forces in Syria!

Of course, all of this is happening at a time when the al-Assad regime’s silence is deafening, as it has failed to issue any denial or clarification or objection to Iranian forces intervening and suppressing the Syrian people at the time of writing. This means one thing, namely that al-Assad is weaker than his allies and supporters believe, particularly as Iran has begun to speak about him in a manner that it does not do so even with Hassam Nasrallah in Lebanon – its pampered son – and its military arm in the region, despite the Iranians trying to portray him – Nasrallah – as part of the Lebanese makeup.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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