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Should Syria Give It a Try? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iranian First Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened Israel in the event of it attacking Syria or Lebanon. Speaking from Damascus, the Iranian Vice President said that “to those thinking of attacking Syria or Lebanon…this time we will cut your legs off to the same extent of your attack.” The question that must be asked here is; must the Syrians first test this and experience war with Israel in order to confirm Iran’s credibility? Before answering this we must first look at a funny story that deals with this.

Whilst former US President Bill Clinton was exerting intense efforts to achieve peace between Syria and Israel, one of the optimists remarking on comments made by Clinton asserted that peace between Damascus and Tel Aviv was close to being achieved. Renowned [Arab] writer Ali Salem responded to this by saying that this was “impossible.” The optimist answered saying “Do you think that you understand politics more than Clinton?” The writer responded saying “No, I do not understand politics as much as Clinton, but I do understand stalling tactics more than him!” Of course peace was not achieved. I agree with what the writer Ali Salem said, and let me add that what the Iranian First Vice President Rahimi is saying with regards to Iran defending Syria, this is nothing more than playing a trick or selling an illusion.

Iran did not fire one shot or missile at Israel when the Israelis were running wild through Lebanon in 2006, even after Hassan Nasrallah came out saying that it is up to those who love Lebanon to put an end to this war. Iran also did not fire any missiles at Israel on the day that Israel attacked the Gaza Strip, and in fact the Iranians were warned of the consequences of intervening [in this war] on the grounds that Iran does not share a border with Israel, and this was despite Tehran’s continual boasts about its missile capabilities. I also do not think that anybody needs reminding that Iran opened its airspace to the Americans during their most recent invasion of Iraq. This is no secret, and the Iranian President has issued statements in the past complaining that the Americans were failing to acknowledge the assistance that they were providing them in Iraq and Afghanistan!

So after all of this, will the Syrians believe the words of the Iranian First Vice President and allow Tehran to deceive them? I don’t think so! Damascus is also assuredly a master in the art of “stalling tactics” which is something that is prevalent in our region, where policies are unclear and where there is a lack of credibility. Therefore Damascus – where the Iranian First Vice President was speaking from about economic integration between Iran and Syria – is the same Damascus that advised [Arab League Secretary-General] Amr Moussa to be patient with regards to the idea of forming an alliance of [Palestine’s] neighboring states, and it is the same Damascus that today welcomes Turkey, and in fact the two countries concluded joint military maneuvers just a few days ago. Syrian Assistant Vice President [Hassan Turkmani] said that “Syria and Turkey are seeking to build closer relations and cooperation in all fields ahead of eventually forming a new regional bloc…built upon shared ties, history, and geography.” We also find Damascus willing to negotiate with Israel, and attacking the Arabs who support linking this negotiation with the Palestinian – Israeli negotiations. Therefore the US Secretary of State was right when she said that the statements being issued by Syria could mean war or peace! Therefore today we must pose a question that was asked previously, and was the title of my 27 February 2010 article, namely “Syria and Iran…who is deceiving who?”

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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