The future presidents of Iran and Syria

The head of the Syrian coalition Ahmad al-Jarba dared to meet with head of the Iranian opposition

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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In an unprecedented move, the head of the Syrian coalition Ahmad al-Jarba dared to meet with head of the Iranian opposition Mariam Rajavi. The Iranian regime considers Rajavi to be a red line and considers dealing with her as unacceptable behavior.
Jarba and Rajavi both agree on opposing the Iranian regime and both aspire to lead their countries towards a better future. Jarba may be luckier in making it to his country’s capital, Damascus. However Rajavi, who’s been tirelessly fighting for 35 years, has a rather more difficult task and she will probably spend the rest of her life in Paris.

Meeting with Rajavi is a smart move because it’s the first practical response against the Iranian regime which is actually leading the war in Syria and supporting it with funds and manpower. There’s no longer a justification for the Syrian opposition to respect anything when dealing with the Iranian opposition. Engineer Mariam Rajavi is one of the figures who harms the Iranian regime the most, and the latter has failed to eliminate her. She gains her power from leading the People's Mojahedin Organization Of Iran, which combines leftism with Islam. Over a time period of three decades, no Arab regime - except for Saddam Hussein - dared support the movement.

The gravest crime Tehran committed is in Syria as the Iranian regime is responsible for the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of Syrians

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

When it comes to relations with Iran, what is left to respect when it is responsible for most of the region’s problems? The gravest crime Tehran committed is in Syria as the Iranian regime is responsible for the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. If it hadn’t been for Iranian support, Bashar al-Assad’s regime would have collapsed during the initial stages of the conflict. Iran’s support of the Syrian regime is costing the Iranian people billions of dollars and thousands of their sons. The result will be a huge disappointment. Assad’s regime resembles Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq as despite all the weapons and suppressive apparatus the latter had, Saddam ended up losing power.

What can Jarba do for the Iranian resistance?

I asked an expert what the significance of this group that lives in Europe is. He said that in addition to shedding light on the People’s Mojahedin of Iran movement and to bringing it back to the region after the Americans silenced it and abandoned it following their occupation of Iraq, the Syrian opposition can establish special relations with it since it is a trained group capable of threatening the Iranian regime. As long as the Iraqi regime wants to get rid of Camp Ashraf and its residents – made up of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran members - it’s expected to later move the camp to Syria.

In addition to the People’s Mojahedin of Iran members who are present in Camp Ashraf, there are thousands of others who belong to the movement in Europe and the United States. All those are capable of allying with the Syrian opposition to fight the Syrian and Iranian regimes. He added that cooperating with them may not alter the balance of power but it does send an important message. The first of these messages is that Tehran’s government must realize that supporting Assad has a political price that includes allying with the People’s Mojahedin of Iran. The second one is that the Syrian opposition is not sectarian and is aware of the Iranian regime’s habit of exploiting religion. When Jarba puts his hand in the Iranian opposition’s hands, he’ll prove he’s neither against the Iranian people nor against the Shiites and that he’s against the evil regimes of Tehran and Damascus. The third message is to respond to the Iranian intelligence community’s move of supporting the fake Syrian opposition that in fact supports the Syrian regime and aims to replace the real Syrian opposition which the coalition and the Free Syrian Army represent.

All of the region’s regimes somehow suffer from opposition mounted against them. However, Iran -which uses the “oppositions” of the region’s countries against them - is in fact a country made of glass. Iran is the country with the most domestic threats as there are many parties inside Iran that disagree with the regime and that are acting against it - even though only a fraction of this activity is reported by the media. These parties’ members have infiltrated the regime itself and possess huge manpower in terms of Iranian expats living in the West. There are also opposition groups consisting of minorities such as the Arabs, Azeris and Baloch peoples. There are also the Kurds who are the strongest and most militarily active group in the north west of the country. By meeting with Rajavi, Jarba has ended the Arab rupture with the Iranian opposition and has opened the door for the rest of Iran’s opposition parties to communicate with him.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 26, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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