A West-Looking Syria?

A West-Looking Syria?

Samara Greenberg

Over the weekend Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun told the Wall Street Journal that the Syrian opposition would align itself with the Arab League and Gulf states and break away from its “special relationship” with Iran and Hezbollah should President Bashar al-Asad fall. “Lebanon should not be used as it was” by Asad and his father “as an arena to settle political scores,” he added.

As if there was ever any doubt, Ghalioun later noted that Hezbollah’s continued support of the Asad regime is the party showing it’s real face and proof that Hezbollah is more interested in its relations with Syria and Iran than supporting the people. In a rare public speech on Tuesday to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashura, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah confirmed the terrorist group’s support for the embattled Syrian president, saying he would “stand by a regime that has stood by the resistance [Hezbollah’s war against Israel] for a long time.”

Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun

A new regime in Syria not aligned with Iran would be a game-changer for Washington, which under the Obama administration has tried in vain to engage Damascus. The Damascus-Tehran relationship is crucial for the latter’s continued funding of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which help solidify its influence over the Middle East. The fall of Asad would reduce Iranian influence in the Arab World, and cause major financial problems for Hezbollah and Hamas — if all those opposed to Iran’s meddling play their cards right.

Unlike in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen — where the U.S. was on relatively good terms with the leaders — the current Syrian regime has only burned Washington. Although there are dangers involved, as with Egypt, the U.S. should work towards ending the violence in Syria and seeing through the creation of conditions for a stable democracy to arise. And at the very least, Washington should loudly exclaim its support for the Syrian National Council’s decision to steer clear from Iran.