A Meeting Point Remains Elusive

Source: Getty
Op-Ed New York Times
Summary
As long as Iran sees itself embroiled in a zero-sum game in Syria, a half-way meeting point, however desirable, will likely remain elusive.
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Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu famously advised that during times of conflict, “build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across."

As America contemplates military force against the Assad regime in Syria, is there a potential golden bridge or dignified accommodation to offer Iran, Bashar al-Assad’s indispensable supporter?

Iran considers Syria its key geopolitical ally — a partner in an “Axis of Resistance” — and its critical geographic link to the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Tehran’s prized regional asset.

While the arrival of more pragmatic Iranian politicians — namely President Hassan Rouhani and U.S.-educated foreign minister Javad Zarif — has understandably renewed hopes for diplomacy with Tehran, Iran’s alliance with Syria has long been maintained by the country’s Revolutionary Guards, not its diplomats.

Qassim Suleimani, the commander believed to manage Iranian operations in Syria, just yesterday declared that Tehran “will support Syria to the end.” Even more moderate figures, like former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, have implored continued support for Syria as a bulwark against Israel.

In this context, successful diplomatic engagement with Iran is hampered by the fact that outside powers — be it the U.S., Russia, or the Arab world — cannot offer Tehran assurances that a post-Assad government in Syria will remain friendly to Iranian interests.

Tehran's complicity in helping Assad kill tens of thousands of rebels has significantly diminished this prospect.

Ironically, the collapse of the Assad regime would produce a common interest for Washington and Tehran in making sure that radical Sunni Islamists, who hate Shiite Iran even more than America, do not rule Damascus.

Until then, as long as Iran sees itself embroiled in a zero-sum game in Syria, a half-way meeting point, however desirable, will likely remain elusive.

This article was originally published in the New York Times.

End of document

About the Middle East Program

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.

 

Comments (1)

 
 
  • HorowitzCSM
    1 Recommend
     
    Iran's war against the State of Israel is its Achilles heal. It is now impossible to forge a deal on Iran's nuclear program without an Iranian retreat from Syria. With the Revolutionary Guards poised on both the Golan Heights and in southern Lebanon, Israel will never agree to any form of enrichment which Iran considers its right under the NPT. War and much tougher sanctions have become near inevitable. Only a new and radical regional political architecture can prevent this scenario from developing. But the ball remains in the supreme leader's court. Only he can decide to end the theological war against Israel, the sovereign national state of the Jewish People. The days when Jews could be treated as a subject people throughout the Islamic world are over. Sura 5 of the Koran, Allah's granting of the Jewish right to the Holy Land through Moses, has indeed been fulfilled. There is no power on earth that can stop the Supreme Being when He has determined that Revelation needs to become fixed. The victory of the modern Jewish defense forces in accordance with Torah and Koranic Revelation has now become historical fact. Only infidels or fools would attempt to overturn the Judgment of the Omnipotent. Iran must decide: does it want a grand bargain with the Jewish State or not? Time is running short, as the criminal regime in Damascus becomes ever more exposed and its linkage to the Iranian nuclear program comes into full focus. So-called moderate wiggle room by the new president is indeed a "wolf in sheep's clothing" when juxtaposed against the backdrop of theological perversion and military (bordering on genocidal) threat. The axis of resistance will come down, one way or another. However the game is not over. The final decision of the UN Security Council has yet to be determined. Appropriate political solutions can still be found for both Syria and the entire region. All that is required is true goodwill among equals in this new year, 5774.
     
     
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Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/09/04/meeting-point-remains-elusive/glh2

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