Iran's Leaders Disagree on Propping Up Syria's Assad
Drama behind the scenes.
As the IRGC’s and the Quds Force’s casualties in Syria rise, the reformists and moderates have made their voice louder. Two weeks ago, Majid Ansari, Rouhani’s vice president for parliamentary affairs, strongly criticized the hard-liners. They have been accusing the Rouhani administration of not being “revolutionary enough.” Responding to the accusation, Ansari called on the hard-liners to demonstrate their own revolutionary zeal by going to Syria and fighting for the Assad regime because “the martyrdom table is available there,” a reference to the IRGC and Quds Force casualties in Syria, and implying implicitly that the reformists and moderates are not willing to do the same.
Ultimately, the fate of Bashar al-Assad must be decided only by the people of Syria through democratic elections and without outside intervention, after a period of peace. But, as the war in Syria is expected to intensify over the next several months, it is important to recognize that Iran’s leadership is not unified about the fate of President Assad. This important fact might help bridge the differences between Iran and Russia on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other.
Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California, is the editor and publisher of the website, Iran News and Middle East Reports, and has been analyzing Iran’s political developments and its nuclear program for two decades.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Khamenei.ir.