Washington, DC, Sept. 1 – In a panel discussion at the Washington Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Ambassador Adam Ereli, former U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain and State Department Spokesman, Larry J. Haas, former Communications Director to Vice President Al Gore and a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, and Alireza Jafarzadeh, NCRIUS Deputy Director, spoke about the Iranian regime’s destructive role in the Syrian conflict. A new book, How Iran Fuels Syria War, which details the Tehran regime’s involvement, was also roll out.
The event was moderated by Ali Safavi, a member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
In his remarks, Mr. Haas underscored the fact that what is happening in Syria must be seen in the context of the broader U.S. policy in the Middle East, which has been one of “leading from behind,” based on the naïve notion that after the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, the mullahs would moderate their behavior.
Ambassador Ereli said that the extent of the Iranian regime’s meddling in Syria offers a taxonomy of how to interfere in the affairs of other countries. This, he said, was motivated by the fact that the mullahs face many problems at home on the one hand, and western ineptitude and inaction on the other. Ereli added that the proactive approach by Arab countries in the region has made it palpably clear that they have come to the conclusion that they can no longer rely on Western governments, including the United States, in dealing with existential threats to their stability by Tehran.
Jafarzadeh offered a detail exposé of Iranian regime’s military involvement in Syria, including the command structure, the number of forces and the expenditures needed to support more than 70,000 Iranian and mercenary forces fighting the theater, and spending up to 20 billion dollars a year in Syria. He also provided the organizational chart of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in Syria; Iran has divided Syria into 5 military zones and has stationed its forces in 18 IRGC-run military centers in Syria. He revealed for the first time that following the gains made by the Syrian opposition in September 2015, Bashar al-Assad had decided to flee Syria, but had been advised against doing so by the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as Assad was in the Glass Building at the Damascus airport about to depart Syria.
NCRI Deputy Director also spoke to effective policy options to end the deadly conflict in Syria, which included the eviction of Tehran from that country, excluding Iran from any talks regarding Syria, imposing a no-fly zone in northern Syria, and actively supporting Syria’s democratic opposition forces.