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Assad in Tehran… The Summit of Illusions

Assad in Tehran… The Summit of Illusions

Wednesday, 11 May, 2022 - 08:45
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Bashar al-Assad conducted a secret visit to Tehran, the second since 2019. What’s the significance of its timing? Its purpose? And what does it purport, especially following efforts to remove Assad from the arms of Iran?

Before answering the above questions, we must stop at two statements broadcast by Iranian TV. The first is for Assad, in which he says that the “strategic relations between Iran and Syria have prevented the Zionist regime - Israel - from taking control of the region.”

The second statement belongs to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He reportedly told Assad that Syria today “is not the same as before the war. Although there was no destruction at that time; but respect for Syria’s status is now greater than before, and everyone sees this country as a force.”

These two declarations confirm that the Tehran summit was nothing but the summit of illusions, and that the Assad regime and Iran are architecting a stage, in which Russia is preoccupied with the war in Ukraine and subject to more than 10,000 international sanctions.

We are not exaggerating by saying that it was the summit of illusions. Amidst talk about the Iranian-Syrian strategic relations that prevented Israel from controlling the region, according to Assad, and Syria’s strength and status, as described by Khamenei, we find that the facts are different.

Israel has targeted Iranian and Assad forces, as well as Hezbollah militias in Syria with more than 400 airstrikes since 2017. Crimes committed by Iran and the Assad regime also contributed to improving Israel’s image in the region.

Accordingly, all that was said during Assad’s visit to Tehran is nothing but propaganda and delusional talk. In fact, the two sides are trying to arrange their cards with Russia’s preoccupation with the war, and in anticipation of an expected Saudi and Gulf rapprochement with the United States.

Assad’s visit to Tehran shows that every attempt to contain the Syrian regime and keep it away from the arms of Iran is bound to fail. The regime is wrecked. No matter the effort to save it. Syria, as we used to know it, is also gone at the foreseeable level.

Someone might say here: What is wrong with Assad visiting Tehran, while the countries of the region are engaging in dialogue with Iran? The difference is great. The countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia, are communicating with Iran in a rational attempt to defuse a crisis caused by the Tehran regime, and in the hope of stopping Iranian terrorism.

Assad, on the other hand, threw all his cards into the Iranian basket, in search of protection from the Syrians. He has pushed the whole country into a narrow sectarian corner, after it has turned into an arena for all Iranian militias.

Here is another observation that shows the difference between the Assad regime and the entire region. Iraq is rising up, rejecting Iran and its militias, and adopting the state logic. Assad, for his part, is succumbing to Tehran in the hope of being protected from the Syrians.

What’s more striking is the fact that the West and the United States are threatening to punish those who deal with the Assad regime through the Caesar Act, while Assad visits the Iranian Supreme Leader and they both boast off America’s weakness in the region. In parallel, Western countries and America continue to scramble to reach an agreement with Iran.

Therefore, the summit was nothing but a Syrian-Iranian attempt to arrange cards in a rapidly-changing region. But Assad is not relying on logic, rather on mere illusions, like the recent meeting in Tehran.

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