Remember that time, not so long ago, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stood before the General Assembly of the United Nations and blamed Washington for the violence in the Middle East, while insisting that all Iran wants is a “win-win” peace? It really wasn’t that long ago – just last week, in fact – but Rouhani himself seems to have already forgotten.
Either that, or Iran’s actions speak louder than its words, because it has decided to expand its role in Syria “in conjunction with Russia’s airstrikes,” to cite The Wall Street Journal. That’s right – Iran will send even more fighters to its already war-torn neighbor, where a large-scale refugee crisis has sent hundreds of thousands fleeing to Europe, to create even more chaos, violence and strife in hopes of winning the war to reinstate President Bashar Assad.
The fighters will be sent to Syria through Iran’s “network of local and foreign proxies,” The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, adding that “more Iranian commanders, military advisers and expert fighters” could be sent there with them (Rouhani’s speech, however, found no mention in the WSJ report – not even as background).
No sooner had Iran announced it would be marching more troops out to Syria than the operation began, with Reuters reporting last Thursday – just after Rouhani’s speech – that “hundreds of Iranian troops” had arrived in Syria, poised to join the pro-Assad, as well as Hezbollah forces fighting in the country, reportedly in the “Idlib and Hama countryside.”
The aim? Recovering, with the help of Russia, Hezbollah, and local Syrian groups, territory lost by Assad to insurgents in northwestern Syria. The means? Yet more violence, killing, and destruction, of course, and all in the name of a despot who should be on trial for war crimes rather than waiting on the sidelines for his friends in Moscow and Tehran to put him back in power. With this harsh reality in mind, the press should not be buying Rouhani’s UN speech. Instead, it should be confronting Tehran about its hypocrisy on the devastation it has wrought in Syria – all for the sake of a power play in a region already fraught with bloodshed and instability.