Thursday, May 16, 2013

Iran Fears Partnership on Syria between US, Russia

May 13, 2013

The Israeli strike on Damascus has revealed the Syrian regime’s inability to prevent a major external military intervention in Syria. The raid showed that Syria’s Russian-made air-defense system cannot protect Syria from an attack by warplanes coming from outside Syrian territory. Therefore, the Russian air-defense system will be useless if NATO decides to conduct a strategic air strike on Syria. The Russian military and political cover that Syria enjoys may not be able to prevent the US and NATO from attacking Syria if they choose to bypass the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power.

All these indications suggest that Moscow’s protection for the Syrian regime may be only political. It should be noted that the latest Lavrov-Kerry understanding was conditioned on President Bashar al-Assad’s commitment to apply the full terms of the Geneva Accord. But that accord has vague portions, such as those about Assad’s fate, and those vague portions are now being negotiated between Moscow and Washington.

So the recent US-Russian partnership on resolving the Syrian crisis may harm the unity between Russia and Iran on which Assad relies to stay in power.

According to informed sources, differences between Russia and Iran on the shape of a final Syrian settlement have recently emerged. Moscow believes that a Syrian settlement should involve a transitional phase without Assad stepping down. Tehran holds that the solution should be a package deal between the United States and Iran over all the region’s issues, from the nuclear file to Bahrain, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.