US Understands Iran’s Message Regarding Bashar Assad
-The developments that are taking place in the western region of Asia have several characteristics; the first one is that these measures, in many cases, are unpredictable, hasty and quick and sometimes out of the control of all the players; the second characteristic is the presence of non-governmental players who have seriously challenged the international organizations and government players. If this challenge existed in the past with regard to the groups affiliated with the resistance against the Zionist regime, today some of these terrorist groups play certain roles under certain names such as the al-Nusra front and ISIS, etc; the third characteristic is that if in the past the governments used terrorism as a tool to advance their objectives in their secret diplomacy, today many countries use terrorism openly and publicly.
An example is the recent developments which happened in Iraq. Our relations with Iraq are strategic and we do not allow some parties to use terrorist groups in order to create chaos in this country and challenge the national security of Iran and the region. In our meetings with regional officials and our indirect talks with the US and direct talks with some of the western countries, we proposed that two measures must simultaneously be taken: the first and immediate measure is to be prepared for a collective and serious fight against a terrorist group which today is called ISIS and has emerged in parts of Iraq and Syria. Our second proposal was to simultaneously complete the political trend both in the region and in Europe and the US as well. Their response was that they were not in a hurry to fight against ISIS and that they would decide about this matter after the completion of the political trend in Iraq. It was under these conditions that the Islamic Republic of Iran realized the secret dimensions of this issue and took any necessary measures in order to provide its maximum security and national interests and did not allow the terrorists to create chaos in Iraq.
-This is while the Arab states showed no concern about this matter but are now present in this illegal coalition. We were surprised in our meetings with the officials of the Arab countries of the region; how was it possible that these states had no reaction to the recent aggressions of the Zionist regime against the Gaza Strip which lasted more than 50 days but, during the past three years, they collaborated in the air strikes against the two Muslim countries of Libya and Syria.
-We believe that all countries must take serious, tangible and coordinated measures in the fight against terrorism but these measures should be within the framework of international laws and the UN resolutions. The events that are happening in the region these days can be viewed both optimistically and pessimistically: based on the optimistic view, the US and some other countries have decided to eliminate terrorism in our region in a two to three year process.
-The pessimistic view is that the US seeks to complete its unsuccessful policies under the cover of these measures. There are numerous reasons which indicate that the second view is closer to reality. If the US really intended to fight against the terrorist groups including the al-Nusra Front and the ISIS, today we would not be faced with this problem in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and parts of Yemen. The US has directly or indirectly played a role in these countries. The US has secret objectives behind its entrance onto the scene.
-One day prior to the Paris Conference, the head of the defense committee of France’s Senate came to Iran. I had a two and a half hour meeting with him. He had come to Iran to explain that Paris was interested in Iran’s presence in this conference but that there was a country which had conditioned its presence on the non-invitation of Iran. This French official also stressed that without Iran’s collaboration nothing could be done and he asked if Iran could help in presenting certain solutions in this regard. Measures that are taken by certain countries in Iraq and Syria, the impacts of which are obvious in the output of the Paris Conference, show their real intentions. In the statement with regard to ISIS, Iraq is mentioned as the axis of this fight and there is no mention of Syria. But the number of the flights of the US and other countries’ planes to Syria is much more than targeting ISIS in Iraq. We do not consider what has been done as a coalition, but rather as hasty and unwarranted measures intended for the domestic use of the US administration.
-We have differences of opinion with our friends in the region including Turkey with which we have strategic relations regarding the issue of Syria. Turkey stresses that Bashar Assad must step down from power. We have told our regional friends that Iran or any other country should not decide about him remaining or stepping down from power, but rather that it is up to the people of Syria to make their own decisions in this regard. The only task which Iran and the others should do to contain the crisis is to prepare the ground for the return of the displaced and create a calm atmosphere for the people to participate in an election. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek the permanent presidency of Bashar Assad but we will not allow the terrorists to overthrow our ally. If the coalition changes its strategy from fighting against terrorism and ISIS to regime change in Syria, it will be faced with severe consequences. The US has understood our message well.
-Iran would take any necessary measure within the framework of international laws and in defense of its own allies.
-The US has told us that it has no plan to target government centers in Syria. But due to our experience, we do not trust them and carefully monitor the situation and continuously transfer our concerns and warnings through the diplomatic channels.
-Saudi Arabia is an important country in the region. The policies of Iran and Saudi Arabia contradict each other with regard to some issues. This is neither in the interests of the world of Islam nor in the interests of the security of the region.
-Tehran and Riyadh could play significant roles in the fight against radicalism and the return of peace. What we have stressed in our talks is that Iran and Saudi Arabia should control the actions of the terrorists and foreign interventions.
-Iran does not intend to cooperate with the US with regard to the issue of ISIS. So long as we do not gain the trust of the US on the nuclear issue, we will not trust them in other issues. That is why Iran’s negotiating team does not discuss regional issues with the US.
-The Arab states are concerned about the success of the nuclear negotiations and Iran-US cooperation. Therefore, it is not logical for Iran to cooperate with the US in its hasty action against ISIS. The US has transferred their message of cooperation to Iran through secret diplomatic channels but since there is not trust and there are numerous ambiguities with regard to the US, we do not enter this phase. Thus, the issue of ISIS is not an opportunity for us to take common measures with the US. Right now Iran’s only common task with the US is related to the nuclear issue.