On October 30, 2015 when the U.S., Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and several other nations held a conference to discuss the fate of Syria, the Persian-language human rights website, Zamaneh, launched a special page entitled “War in the Region and Iran’s Share of Responsibility.” http://www.radiozamaneh.com/243343 Below are translated summaries of three of the analyses published on October 30, 2015.
Shirin Ebadi, Jurist, Human Rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, England:
If Iran had used its influence in Iraq to improve life in that country, ISIS would have never been able to occupy several important Iraqi cities. Instead, Nouri al-Maliki was used as a puppet of the Islamic Republic, and the Sunnis were ignored. Had it not been for the Iranian regime’s infinite support for the Assad regime, Assad would have been toppled a few months [after the 2011 Revolution] and the people would have been victorious. However, Iran’s intervention led to the massacre of the people, a civil war and a power vacuum in which ISIS was able to grow. Instead of creating welfare for the Iranian people, the Iranian regime has been sending arms and forces and millions of dollars to other Islamic countries in order to make Iran the leader of the Islamic world.
On the other hand, the rulers of Saudi Arabia have had the same dream. The political and military competition of these two undemocratic governments has set the region on fire. Russia and China are supporting Iran. Israel and the U.S. are supporting Saudi Arabia. The result has been wars by proxy which have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, the destruction of many ancient sites and the rise of terrorism in the region. Iran has made a bad gamble which it needs to end. National resources and funds released after the nuclear agreement should be used for the welfare of the people and purposes such as building schools and hospitals.
Ali Keshtgar, Political Analyst, France:
The current situation in Syria and Iraq is the outcome of various international and regional factors. The most important international factor has been the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the destruction of the regime and the political infrastructure. The most important regional factor has been the Islamic Republic. ISIS could not have emerged without the fear and dissatisfaction experienced by Iraqi Sunnis in face of the rise to power of a Shi’a Islamic Republic which discriminated against them. The intervention of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its bringing to power, a regime similar to itself, made the Iraqi Sunnis welcome Salafist movements. In Syria too, four years ago, the people demanded nothing but free elections and freedom for political parties. Instead, the dictatorship of the Assad dynasty, backed by financial and military support from the Islamic Republic, repressed and demolished moderate and reformist opposition movements. As a result, democracy-seeking movements were marginalized and Sunni fundamentalist extremists replaced them. Other factors that have had a share in expanding Islamic fundamentalism and aggravating the crisis in Syria and Iraq are the following: Saudi Arabian, Persian Gulf state and Turkish support for Sunni fundamentalists; poverty and unemployment experienced by youth in Europe who join the Islamic fundamentalists; unchallenged Western support for Israeli expansionism.
Frieda Afary, Journalist and Translator, United States:
Most analysts admit that Russian air strikes and intensified Iranian military intervention in Syria have been primarily aimed at regions controlled by the moderate opposition and not ISIS. The U.S. and Europe have also accepted Russian and Iranian military intervention in Syria. On the other hand, recent negotiations between Turkey and the European Union are aimed at closing Europe’s doors to Syrian refugees, thereby forcing them to stay in Syria and die or experience a slow death in refugee camps in Syria’s neighboring countries. Considering the scale of this refugee crisis (8 million inside and 4 million outside Syria) shouldn’t we call it a holocaust? Some Iranian activists and intellectuals have openly expressed their opposition to the Iranian government’s military intervention in Syria. However, many Iranian activists and intellectuals implicitly or explicitly defend the Assad regime and claim that maintaining it will prevent the growth of ISIS. They think the Assad regime is the “better option” because it is secular and can be reformed. I think this argument is illogical and inhuman. First, the majority of the more than 250,000 killed in Syria since 2011 have been killed by government forces. The majority of the refugees have been fleeing the regions under the regime’s control. This regime which has been compared to Nazi Germany is no less ferocious than ISIS. Secondly, the Assad regime and ISIS feed off each other. An authoritarian system based on the Shi’a monopoly of power fans the flames of Sunni fundamentalism. The Iranian people need to be warned that the continuation of the Assad regime, with or without Assad, will lead to the continuation of ISIS as well as the stronger use of nationalist discourses by regional powers to repress any form of democratic opposition in the Middle East.