A rebel general's view: Iran is the true occupier of Syria

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceAugust 25, 2013 

Mideast Syria

Syrian children hold signs during a Sunday demonstration in Maaret al-Numan, Idlib province, northern Syria. ASSOCIATED PRESS

UNCREDITED — AP

When a fire threatens a house, can one imagine going to the arsonist who started the fire in the first place to put it out?

The answer, of course, is a strong and unconditional no. This is exactly the case regarding Syria and the idea of involving Tehran in an international solution to resolve this humanitarian, political and geopolitical crisis.

In my recent trip to Europe -- my first visit to the West -- I faced serious issues regarding the Iranian regime's role in the Syria crisis. As an individual who has witnessed the developments from both sides of the Syrian political spectrum, my accounts should be taken into consideration.

Nearly 2 1/2 years has passed since the beginning of the Syrian people's historic uprising to obtain freedom and their human rights, and establishing a popular government. Bashar Assad, the bloodthirsty dictator, is resorting to genocide and crimes against humanity -- including bombing cities and residential areas, and even using chemical weapons -- in an attempt to perpetuate his abhorred and disgraceful rule.

The price of all this has been over 100,000 martyrs, including women, children and the elderly, and the destruction of a large part of my country. However the resistance of the people of Syria, one of the cradles of human civilization, continues.

As far as the meddling of foreign forces in this desperate battle is concerned, Tehran has had the most destructive of all roles. Unfortunately, the scope of Tehran's meddling in Syria is not understood correctly in the West.

It is an occupation that is not so invisible any longer; news of Revolutionary Guard members being killed in Syria appears nearly every day in the mullahs' newspapers.

For many years, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps officers were present as advisers alongside the highest ranks of the Syrian army. However, from the beginning of the Syrian people's uprising aimed at obtaining freedom, and especially during the last 12 months, this presence has expanded to an unprecedented scope.

I have witnessed IRGC officers in the bases and command centers of Assad's forces, and involved in nearly all the planning. They command forces and even choose targets, and they are even present directly in the scenes of the battles.

Tehran has accelerated the dispatching of its proxy forces, from Lebanese Hezbollah and also Iraqi forces under its influence, to support Assad. Through Iraqi air space, Tehran is continuously sending weapons and equipment to Damascus.

Tehran's unsparing military and financial support for Assad, including a $3.6 billion oil credit line, is the main logistical element behind Assad's survival and the continuing of the massacre in that country. Mullah Mehdi Taeb, one of Khamenei's inner circle, said Feb. 16: "Syria is the 35th province and a strategic province for us."

As Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Iranian opposition -- with the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran at its center -- said in a recent Paris international conference that this regime is attempting to destroy any and all democratic trends in the region. It is worth nothing that delegations from 31 Arabic and Islamic countries participated in the gathering. Rajavi said regime's objective is to expand its influence and dominance in the region so it can maintain its shaky rule in Tehran. (I had gone to the West for the first time from Syria in order to participate in this conference.)

Hassan Rouhani, Tehran's new president, who in the last 34 years has had key posts in the regime's military and intelligence apparatuses, is no different from the rest of the mullahs in this regard. In his first press conferences, he clearly emphasized his support for Assad and Hezbollah. At his inauguration, in a meeting with the Syrian prime minister he stressed that no force in the world can break the ties between the mullahs and Assad's government.

The time has come for the international community to view the mullahs' regime as it truly is -- an occupation force in Syria -- and confront it with a strong tone. Labeling Rouhani as a moderate or reformist, and engaging this regime under this pretext, is a sham that provides a more open hand to the mullahs' regime to further increase their meddling and warmongering in Syria -- for which the Iranian people and the suffering Syrian people are paying the price.

Expecting Tehran to be a reliable party in the Syria crisis is like asking a fox to protect a henhouse. With or without Rouhani, the mullahs' regime is the main element of crises and continuous crimes against humanity in Syria.

The U.S. and E.U. must provide more than rhetoric in support of the Syrian opposition; it must send arms support as soon as possible. We guarantee that these weapons will remain in the hands of coalition forces, and assure that concern in this regard is irrelevant. Moreover, they must increase their pressure on Tehran to prevent it providing further aid to Assad.

For each day of delay, the bereaved and suffering people of Syria will pay the price of with more blood, and the status quo becoming even more critical.

Enough is enough.

Brig. Gen. Abduielah Alnoeimi, is the head of the Free Syrian Army's military Council in the Golan Area. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

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