"What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?" President Trump asked Russia and Iran Friday night after the launch of air strikes against the Syrian regime. "The nations of the world can be judged by the friends who keep them."
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In a time of great economic difficulties in Iran, Tehran has provided billions of dollars to arm, train and pay for tens of thousands of Arab, Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militants help Assad crush Sunni Islamist rebels. Tehran, the victim of horrendous chemical weapons attacks by Saddam Hussein three decades ago, has provided Assad with the means to deliver the same weapons while denying that he uses them. The question is why?
Tehran's unwavering support for Assad is shaped not only by the geopolitical or financial interests of the Iranian nation, but also by the religious beliefs of the Islamic Republic, but by a visceral and seemingly indelible hatred for the state of Israel. As high-ranking Iranian officials such as Ali Akbar Velayati, a close advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have said: "The chain of resistance against Israel by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, the new Iraqi government and Hamas runs on the Syrian highway. … Syria is the golden ring of the resistance chain against Israel. "As long as 78-year-old Khamenei remains in power, this hatred will justify Tehran's continued commitment to blood and treasure to aid Assad's use of all necessary resources – including chemical weapons – to preserve his rule.
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Israel has virtually no direct influence on the daily lives of Iranians, the opposition to the Jewish state was the most enduring pillar the Iranian revolutionary ideology. Whether Khamenei is giving a speech on agriculture or education, he inevitably returns to the evils of Zionism. "The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumor in this region that should be cut off," Khamenei said in a 2012 speech. "We will support and support all nations and groups fighting the Zionist regime around the world." Given Israel's military superiority, Khamenei's declared strategy is not Israel's short-term extermination, but its long-term political dissolution. "When Muslims and Palestinians unite and all fight," he says, "the Zionist regime will not exist in 25 years."
In an attempt to avenge what he presents as an injustice, Tehran Assad has helped to perpetrate a much larger one. The number of Syrian deaths since 2011 (an estimated 500,000, although the UN has stopped counting) is more than five times greater than the approximately 90,000 Palestinians killed in the last 70 years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, more than twice as many Syrians (12 million) were expelled as Palestinians. In fact, far more Palestinians have been killed by Assad (nearly 3,700) since 2011 than by Israel, including chemical weapons. "If their return brings Palestinians home, millions of Syrians will be displaced," said my friend Kassem Eid, one of about half a million Palestinian refugees who grew up in Syria and were victims of a chemical weapons attack by Assad. I do not want to return to Palestine. "
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<p class =" canvas-atom-canvas text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm "type =" text "content =" The Iran-Assad alliance is a study in contradictions. While Iranian proponents of secularism are brutally repressed, Assad routinely says, "The important thing is that Syria should be secular." Iranian women who oppose compulsory hijab are subjected to violence and imprisonment while Hezbollah fighters cel military victories in Damascus nightclubs alongside scantily-clad escorts. While the naked Renaissance art in Europe is being censored so as not to offend the religious sentiments of visits by Iranian officials, Assad's forces have deliberately used rape as an instrument of repression against opponents. Khamenei invokes his subjects to buy Iranian products to promote economic self-sufficiency, while Tehran's generosity has subsidized Assad's wife Asmaa – an unexpected fashion photographer, which is her main passion: shopping in London. "Data-reactid =" 20 "> The Iran-Assad Alliance is a study of contradictions: While Iranian proponents of secularism are being brutally repressed, Assad routinely says," The most important thing is that Syria should be secular. "Iranian women While Hezbollah fighters in Damascus discos celebrate military victories alongside  scarcely-clad escorts: while the renaissance-naked art is censored in Europe, the religious sentiments of Iranian Assad's forces deliberately used rape as a means to suppress officials An instrument of repression against opponents Khamenei invokes his subjects to buy Iranian products to promote economic self-sufficiency The generosity of Tehran has helped Assad's wife Asmaa – an open-minded fashion photographer – to subvene that looks like their main passion: shopping in London.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011, Assad and Iran have been trying to suppress moderate Islamists in order to develop a non-profit offer to the West: Assad or jihadists. Nevertheless, Tehran has tried to portray its role in Syria as an existential struggle against Sunni radicalism. "Syria is the 35th province of Iran," said Mehdi Taeb, head of the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Service and close advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "If we lose Syria, we can not hold Tehran." While Assad's collapse would undoubtedly be a strategic blow for the Islamic Republic, Iran has been a nation state for almost 2,500 years without the benefit of a Syrian vassal state. Just as Russia survived the USSR, Iran will also survive the Islamic Republic.
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<p class =" canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – -sm Mt ( 0.8em) – sm "type =" text "content =" Today, the Tehran-Damascus axis is like an exploitative love affair: Iran likes Syria because of its body (which borders on Israel and is Tehran's way station) /archive/dn/1995/02/11.html Syria has the money of Iran, and Assad has given up his sovereignty in exchange for the Iranian size: "Syria is occupied by the Iranian regime," said former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab. The person who governs the country is not Bashar al-Assad, but [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander] Qassem Suleimani. "As for the other half of the couple, Tehran's dizzying spending in Syria – which is estimated to amount to billions of dollars annually – has become a growing concern of the population resentment amid worsening economic conditions in Iran, while anti-government protests in Iran chanted in January the inhabitants of Mashhad – a large Shiite shrine city – : "Leave Syria alone, think of us." "Data-reactid =" 25 "> Today the Tehran-Damascus axis resembles an exploitative love affair: Iran likes Syria for its Body (which borders Israel and serves as Tehran's transition to Hezbollah), and Syria likes Iran for its money because Assad has given up his Iranian generosity "Syria is occupied by the Iranian regime," said former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab. "The person who governs the country is not Bashar al-Assad, but [Qassem Suleimani] [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander]." As for the other half of the couple, Tehran's dizzying spending in Syria – estimated at several billions a year – has become a growing source of popular denial in deteriorating economic conditions in Iran. During the anti-government protests last January in Iran, residents of Mashhad – a large Shiite Shri ne town – chanted "Leave Syria alone, think about us."
Although Iranians feel the financial cost of the Syrian war, Tehran has outsourced human costs. Iran's 40,000-strong Shiite legion – consisting of Lebanese, Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis – has suffered five times more victims in Syria than Iranians. Afghan militias – known as the Fatemiyoun Division – have paid the highest price. Most are not enthusiastic holy warriors, but undocumented workers, some minors who present the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with an offer they can not refuse: 10-year residence permit in Iran – reducing the risk of deportation – and 800 dollars a month to Syria allegedly to protect the Shiite sanctuary of Sayyida Zainab, a granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad, outside Damascus. Due to lack of basic training and often illiteracy, these Afghan troops are used instead as the first attack cannon fodder. "Sometimes we had no supplies," said a former Afghan fighter, "no water, no bread hungry and thirsty in the middle of the desert." For Palestine
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The burden of defending Iran's role In Syria, Western audiences have struck Tehran's US Secretary of Education Javad Zarif, Zarif's considerable talent includes the ability and willingness to boldly obey bold untruths "In Syria, for example, the Revolutionary Guards announced their 1,000th casualty, and after every chemical attack by Assad, Zarif systematically turned Assad over to responsibility by following the same playbook:
First, remind everyone that Saddam supports Hussein by Western powers – used chemical weapons against Iran during the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988. In other words, Syrian children are not the victims, Iran is still the victim condemning the use of chemical weapons "by anyone". This allowed Zarif's western allies to acknowledge his humanity, but when he was pushed, Zarif has always claimed that the Syrian opposition, supported by Americans and Israel, used chemical weapons, not Assad. Zarif has paid little reputational costs for this whitewash; The Nobel Peace Prize Committee continues to refer to him as an annual candidate.
After seven years and billions of dollars lost, an assertive Russian partner and a US president seeking to withdraw from the region, Tehran feels confirmed in Syria. Allegedly, permanent military bases are to be built outside of Damascus, with armed drones capable of reaching Israel. Periodic, limited US military strikes against Assad's weapons cache are unlikely to change that calculus. Hopes that Assad's mass destruction or the use of chemical weapons would force Tehran to reassess its support have proved wrong. Just as Iranians today often claim that Saddam had used chemical weapons against Iran three decades ago, Syrians will be thinking of Iranian complicity for as long.
During the last seven years, the clear power imbalance between Washington and Tehran has become clear during the last seven years, as well as the asymmetry of the two countries' engagement in Syria. Unlike Donald Trump, who did not look after Syria last week and is unlikely to care for Syria next week, Ayatollah Khamenei's opposition to Israel and his commitment to Syria has not wavered for four decades. As Captain Ahab chases after Moby Dick, 78-year-old Khamenei will take this persecution to the grave.
<p class = "Canvas Atom Canvas Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "In the 1998 film American History X A vivid portrait of the American neo-Nazi movement – America's Islamist equivalent – Edward Norton's figure is a radical teenager sent to prison for a hate crime when a sympathetic former teacher visits him in prison to try to make sense but the teacher's simple commentary was strong enough to make Norton think about you yourself, "the teacher said." Did everything you've done improve your life? " "" data-reactid = "32"> In the film 1998 American History X a Living Portrait of the American Neo-Nazi Movement – America's Islamist Correspondence – Edward Norton's character is a young radical who is sent to jail becomes for committing a hate crime. When a sympathetic former teacher visits him in prison to try to make sense, he remains relentless. However, Teacher's simple commentary was strong enough to make Norton think. "Ask yourself one thing," said the teacher. Did everything you did make your life better? "
<p class =" Canvas Atom Canvas Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em In the midst of all the slaughter and destruction in Syria, a similar question could be addressed to Khamenei: Has anything that Iran has done in Syria or elsewhere has helped to further its goal of destruction? Israel and liberating Palestine? Khamenei seemed to put that question last Time to reconsider "Today the body of the Muslim world is seriously injured" he said . "The enemies of Islam have been able to amaze the Muslim world through war and discord. This gives the enemy more security in the region. In Western Asia, the Zionist regime thrives in a safe haven while Muslims are confronted. "Long live Palestine." data-reactid = "33"> In the midst of all the carnage and In Syria, a similar question could be asked of Khamenei. Has anything that Iran has done in Syria or elsewhere pushed its goal to destroy Israel and liberate Palestine? Khamenei seemed to reconsider this question lately. "Today the body of the Muslim world is seriously injured" he said . "The enemies of Islam have managed to stun the Muslim world through war and discord and to give more security to the enemy in the region." In Western Asia, the Zionist regime thrives in a safe haven, while Muslims are confronted. "Long live Palestine ,
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