Assad describes deal as a "turning point"
With the signing of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, the opposition to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is concerned that “America is compromising on the issue of the Syrian people.”
Some elements of the opposition are clearly frustrated as they anticipate Tehran’s political behavior towards the international community after the agreement is signed, and the extent to which the West is able to “apply pressure and force Tehran to stop supporting the Regime.”
In contrast to the opposition’s concerns, the Syrian Regime welcomed the “Iranian victory,” describing the agreement as “a significant turning point.” In a congratulatory message sent to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah ‘Ali Khamenei and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, al-Assad said, “the signing of this agreement is considered a fundamental turning point in the history of the Iranian Islamic Republic and the history of its relations with regional and international countries.”
In contrast to the festive attitude of the Syrian government, the vice president of the Syrian National Opposition Coalition, Nagham al-Ghadiri, expressed concern. In a statement to the news outlet al-Sharq al-Awsat, she stated, “We are concerned that the agreement has been signed at the expense of our blood.”
However, she affirmed that “we will complete our revolution and will not stop.” She indicated that, “if the American government intends to normalize relations with the Syrian Regime, then we will turn to the American people directly via institutions like Congress in order to obtain the support of the people.”
The same concern, frustration, fear and anticipation is being felt by the other Syrian opposition groups. In the opinion of the former president of the Syrian National Opposition Council, Burhan Ghalioun (pictured above), the signing of this agreement was done without discussing the primary issues facing the Middle East and the problems linked with Iran’s meddling. He stated that, “it only serves the interests of Western countries and comes at the expense of the Arab countries in general, but especially Syria.”
He added in his comments to al-Sharq al-Awsat, “It is impossible for countries to respect themselves; and I mean Western countries that sign agreements with a regime of this kind. These Western countries are abandoning economic sanctions at a time when the Iranian Regime is involved in and supporting acts of genocide in Syria. They are also involved with plans to change the demographics of the Syrian people.”
As an example he cited the footage that was aired of the demonstrations that occurred at the Umayyad Mosque last Friday on “Jerusalem Day.” The flags of Iran, Hezbollah and other factions fighting in Damascus were raised during the demonstration. He described this as “an affront to the various ideologies, segments of society and movements of the Syrian people.”
Ghalioun said that signing the agreement “represented a significant attack against every value of humanitarian solidarity and every principle of human rights that the West extols.” He went on to point out that al-Assad welcomes the agreement “in hopes that the Iranian money that will be released by the West will eventually reach them.” However, he said that the repercussions of the agreement upon the Syrian crisis cannot be estimated “before we see how the West reacts. Then we can evaluate whether the agreement will open new opportunities for Tehran and al-Assad or put pressure upon Iranians to change their criminal policies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and open the way for political solutions.”
Political scientist and professor of international relations, Dr. Sami Nadir, told al-Sharq al-Awsat that “it is good that the agreement was signed because it frees the parties of the restrictions that were impeding America’s every move in the Syrian crisis.” He mentioned that Turkey and Jordan have requested the establishment of buffer zones on the Syrian border, but this has been refused or postponed by Washington so as to avoid disrupting the negotiations of the agreement.” He further indicated that impeding the opposition’s achievements in the south “was clearly intervention by America in order to prevent Syrian developments from influencing the negotiations.” He pointed out that intervention “might mean the difference between a path that is peaceful or one that escalates the conflict. It might allow the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to intervene in the same way that it intervened in the agreement on the Syrian chemical weapons issue.”
Nadir’s opinion is that the agreement “places underlying restrictions upon Tehran, and that Iran hasn’t obtained anything other than having economic sanctions lifted. However, how Iran responds will be another matter.”
The political scientist and international relations professor at the University of Southern Paris, Khattar Abou Diab, mentioned that “the Syrian tragedy was being held hostage by Iran’s rush to achieve points in the nuclear issue.” He indicated that “many points are tied to Syrian and other regional issues that were on ice until this agreement was made.” Abou Diab believes that every effort that Iran exerts to suggest that “the agreement is a reward or adds to Iran’s regional expansion will prove to be an inauspicious gamble,” and that “their beliefs will greatly differ from the realities of the situation.” He indicated that “Washington plans to rehabilitate Iran by imposing a logical transition of the Islamic Republic from an era of being under the guardianship of Islamic jurists (i.e. Supreme leadership of an Ayatollah) to an era of a modern state.”
This article was translated from the Arabic by Donald Puhlman.