U.S. officials have confirmed that Iran is secretly helping Syrian President Bashar al-Asad in his efforts to put down the demonstrations gripping his country by providing gear to suppress crowds and assistance in blocking and monitoring protesters’ use of the Internet, cellphones, and text-messaging. There is also evidence that the Iranian regime is actively exploring ways to aid Shi’ite hardliners in Bahrain and Yemen to destabilize longstanding U.S. allies in the two countries.
Just how far will Iran’s meddling go? According to an administration official, Iranian “aspirations far outpace their ability to project their influence into these places.” But that may not be the case.
The Reform Party of Syria, a U.S.-based democratic opposition group, said in an April 11 press release that Tehran’s brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been running the show in Syria since April 4.
Handcuffed Syrians lie on the ground after being arrested in a security crackdown amid pro-reform protests.
“In essence, the IRGC now occupies Syria and has become its de facto ruler. Syria has become the 32nd Province of Iran,” the release read. “Iran is relying on the apathy of the west and its occupation with the events in Libya to achieve a new victory in its war against the people of the region.”
That Iran is assisting Shi’ites in Bahrain and Yemen is not surprising. Iran is never one to miss an opportunity to exploit events in the Middle East for its own benefit. And when it comes to Syria, “Iran is afraid that its investments will go down the drain,” as Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said. Without Damascus, Tehran would face real trouble arming Hezbollah and maintaining influence in the region as well as direct pressure on Israel.
Above all, this news that the Iranian regime is aiding Syria – and may even be running the show in suppressing its protesters – is the final nail in the coffin when it comes to questioning the nature of the Asad regime. It is happily married to Tehran. As this blog said two weeks ago, it’s time for the White House to take action by, at the very least, recalling its recently appointed ambassador to Syria and cutting ties with Asad.