October 30, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6204

In Advance Of Syria Peace Talks In Vienna, Pro-Syria Lebanese Dailies Warn Of Wide-Ranging Ferocious Campaign In Region Unless Iran's Demands Are Met

October 30, 2015
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 6204

In advance of the peace talks on the Syrian crisis that began today in Vienna, with the participation of 17 countries including the U.S., Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese dailies Al-Akhbar and Al-Safir, known for their support for Hizbullah, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and the resistance axis, published several articles warning that if Iran's conditions for a solution in Syria are not met, there will be a military escalation in Syria and across the entire Middle East.

In two articles in Al-Akhbar, Lebanese journalist Hassan Haidar stressed that "today Iran has more of a presence than ever on the ground in Syria" and is "armed with the 'quadripartite alliance' and its military force, which has not yet shown its full offensive might on the battlefield [in Syria]." He added that if Iran's demands in a solution in Syria, including abandoning the idea of removing Assad, were not met, Iran would escalate matters, leading to "massive Iranian intervention on Syrian soil" and "a wide-ranging and ferocious campaign" to get its way. Haidar wrote that should this happen, "all the doors will close, and only the sounds of war will be heard." He also argued that what had caused the U.S. to change its position and agree to Iran's participation in the Vienna talks was intelligence information it had collected about the military campaign that Iran has planned for Syria.

The political editor of Al-Safir wrote that if no political solution was reached by 2016, "the barrel bombs will turn into volcanoes that will erupt from Yemen and reach everywhere in this burning region."

Following are excerpts from the three articles:

Columnist in Al-Akhbar: If Iran's Conditions Are Not Met There Will Be Iranian Military Escalation in Syria And "A More Wide-Ranging and Ferocious Campaign"

Hassan Haidar, columnist for the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, which is close to Hizbullah and to the Syrian regime, wrote: "Hossein Abdollahian, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, represented Iran at the discussion table on the Syrian crisis [in Vienna]. He reiterated the principles of his country: the need to stop support for the armed [rebels] and their influx into Syria, the bringing in of urgent humanitarian aid, and afterwards the holding of a political dialogue and national reconciliation, with the participation of the unarmed opposition or those [in the opposition] who are prepared for dialogue with no preconditions. Afterwards, there would be elections for parliament and for the presidency, from which would be formed a national unity government that would deal first of all with two issues: the return of the refugees and reconstruction. These details do not include discussion of the issue of the future of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, since it is the elections that will decide the future of the presidency. It is the Syrians who need to decide their future, and the world needs to support their preferences.

"Iran's demands will be extremely grating to the ears of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other countries that are calling for Assad's removal. The Iranian side, however, will bring with it the latest news on the military operations [in Syria] that are still in their early stages, and will... express its willingness to ramp up its military involvement in an 'advisory' [capacity] if the proposals that it puts on the table are ignored...[1]

"If Iran comes up against stubborn insistence on the part of the Gulf states and the West for their [own] demands, in addition to [their] continued support for and supply to the armed [rebels], then [it should be taken into account] that today Iran has more of a presence than ever on the ground in Syria, that it intends to increase the number of its military advisors, and that it is determined to spearhead the battle against the terrorists. This accounts for the increase in the number of Iranian martyrs for whom the Islamic Republic is conducting funerals in these days, most of whom died in the Aleppo region and in northwest Syria

"Thus, either the world and a portion of the Arabs become convinced of the obligation to stop supporting terrorism and to work towards a joint strategy - the lowest common denominator of which is halting the takfiri expansion, deterring it, and reining it in, or else the 'four-country alliance' [of Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Syria] will turn to escalation of the war on the ground. Then, after all the options are exhausted, there will be no excuse to prevent massive Iranian intervention on Syrian soil. Then all the doors to dialogue will close, and only the sounds of war will be heard. That is, apart from the direct relations concerning the nuclear issue, which have not been affected [up to now] by the fact that the issues are interrelated, since the Iranians have separated out [the nuclear issue] from the circle of regional dialogue and have neutralized it

"Iran is facing two options vis-à-vis Syria: a diplomatic resolution and an end to the war, or movement toward a more wide-ranging and ferocious campaign in which the gains on the ground will play a major role in imposing the conditions for a resolution on the others."[2]

In a second piece, published October 30, 2015, Haidar again stressed that Iran had a massive presence in Syria and that it has threatened to expand its campaign there if its demands are not met: "Iran is armed with the 'quadripartite alliance' and its military force, which has not yet shown its full offensive might on the battlefield [in Syria], because it is [still] in the stage of setting the rules of war and drawing up plans with its allies. This means that we can expect a gradual escalation of military activity in Syria, after [Iran, Russian, and the other] forces participating in the war acclimate to the nature of the region. It is based on this [situation] that Iranian diplomacy will operate in Vienna..."

Haidar went on to argue that Iran's participation in the Vienna talks, the idea of which had been rejected until recently, "was not the result of the success of the nuclear negotiations [i.e. the JCPOA], but the result of changes on the ground [in Syria] and of the U.S.'s monitoring of [what is happening] on the ground [there], and following [the U.S.'s gathering of] data and intelligence information on the scope of the coming campaign, which will begin with Russian aerial backup. [It is all this that has] prompted Washington to include Iran in finding a solution, despite strong Saudi and Turkish objections...

"Tehran will bring up its view [on resolving the Syrian crisis] at the debate table in Vienna. But if its efforts are rebuffed, then it will launch a more wide-ranging campaign. Onward to war."[3]

Political Editor of Al-Safir: If An Accord In Syria Is Not Reached Soon, The Barrel Bombs Will Turn Into Volcanoes That Will Burn Up The Region

The political editor of the Lebanese Al-Safir daily, which is known for its support for the Assad regime and for the resistance axis, wrote in the paper on October 30, 2015 under the title "The Vienna Summit: Acceleration of a Syrian Accord, or a Volcano?" about the meetings in Vienna. He warned that if an accord on the Syria situation is not reached soon, the entire region will be burned by a volcano: "The scene in Vienna appears surreal. Each participant holds in one hand an olive branch and in the other a rifle or a Sukhoi [fighter jet]. Each has his own weapon, his own materiel, and his own considerations. One group does not budge an inch from its demand for President Bashar Al-Assad's removal, even if his replacements will be the [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, ISIS, or any other name. The other group opposes the principle of the forcible removal of Assad, and calls for a full complement of political [accords], the first principle of which is the fight against terrorism...

"Have the conditions ripened for an accord in Syria? What is certain is that if the doors to an accord remain closed into 2016, it will mean that the barrel bombs will turn into volcanoes that will erupt from Yemen and reach everywhere in this burning region."[4]


[1] The quotation marks are the author's. Spokesmen for the Iranian regime have been careful over the past years to deny any direct involvement in the war in Syria, and have claimed that Iranian aid to the Assad regime has been in an advisory capacity to Assad's forces fighting on the ground.

[2] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 29, 2015.

[3] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 30, 2015.

[4] Al-Safir (Lebanon), October 30, 2015.

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