Syria, America’s shortcut to Iran

Raed Omari
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Not only has the Syrian crisis been a mysterious and hard-to-understand matter, but writing about it has also been challenging.

From its start in March 2011, the Syrian revolution has been engulfed by uncertainty and chaos, resulting mostly from the Syrian people having their fate externally more than internally decided. This has occurred to such an extent that one finds it difficult to predict the course of action or script a logical scenario.


It is always the case that when the Syrian dilemma is said to be nearing a resolution of some kind, things fall apart suddenly, leaving even established and veteran analysts in a state of wonder and perplexity.

But there emerged recently unexpected developments in the course of action on Syria, prophesying a solution to the more than two-year-old deadly conflict gripping the Arab country.

Inseparable from the current situation in Syria is the historic phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopting a binding resolution on ridding Syria of chemical weapons and the Syrian regime’s openness regarding the projected Geneva II conference.

Such a “non-chronological” flow of incidents reveal resolving the Syrian crisis will occur through the settling of other issues.

For the U.S. and Russia, it is invalid to handle the Syrian crisis domestically as a territorial matter but better, and more productive, to handle it from a wider perspective, combing Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s security, the Mideast peace process and maybe issues concerning natural gas pipelines.

Thus, the Geneva II Middle East peace conference, with regard to all those developments, is not expected to focus only on Syria for Syria’s sake but on other regional matters – paramount of which is the Iranian nuclear program – though Syria is the projected cause.

From Geneva to Yalta

For some reason, I was preoccupied with the Yalta Conference when writing these words, believing the projected Geneva II to be just a reoccurrence of the iconic 1945 event with slight difference related to time and place but not so much on agenda.

A deal between the U.S. and Iran over issues of mutual concern is not that impossible, despite the difficult diplomatic relations between them

Raed Omari

With the growing likelihood of Geneva II, as expressed decisively by the Americans and Russians and “coyly” and “marginally” by Syrians from both sides, the outcomes of the projected world gathering are expected to be portrayed according to the interests of the U.S. and Russia with little care for the Syrian cause if it goes against them.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met in a Russian resort town in the Crimea to discuss Europe’s post-war reorganization and the post-war world. Now, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russia counterpart Sergei Lavrov meet in the Swiss capital to decide on the fate of post-war Syria and the post-war region.

In as much as the attendance of the renown British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was symbolic at the Yalta Conference, the Syrians’ participation, both from the regime and opposition, will be also symbolic as their country’s fate is to be decided by the Americans and the “resurrected’ titan, Russia. History repeats itself.

One would argue against this conclusion – though still an impression – saying that Russia is still far from being considered a superpower in comparison with the United States. Such a counter argument might be right to a great extent but, with just a look at how much the Syrian crisis has been portrayed from the American and Russian perspectives, my rationale would sound valid.

In fact, Russia is sure of its “regional power status” as opposed to the U.S. but it is not that harmful for the Americans to grant the Russians the rank of a challenging power if that serves, or doesn’t affect, their interests.

Iran via Syria

If Syria’s chemical weapons are the U.S.’s major concern about the whole Syrian dilemma, then such an issue is now dissolved with the U.N. Security Council’s recent resolution and the Syrian regime’s welcoming approval.

If it were Israel’s security that governs America’s handling of the Syrian crisis, then such an issue is no longer worrying with the growing possibility of Syria turning into a failed state posing no threats to the Jewish state. That is if the Syrian regime has ever been a source of threat to Israel.

What is left for the U.S. to resolve in the region is Iran’s nuclear program, with indications revealing a deal being drafted, studied or even considered, to end the years-long dispute.

Of course, it is not to be resolved aside from the Syrian crisis. Iran, more than Syria, was Obama’s main concern in his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

In that spontaneous speech, Obama summarized the Syrian crisis with regard to the Aug.21 chemical attacks in a Damascus suburb, which left more than 1,300 dead, warning of “consequences” if Syria fails to give up its chemical weapons.

But with regard to Iran’s dilemma, Obama said “diplomacy must be tested,” hinting of a new and different American-Iranian relationship should an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program be reached. This, he said, would end the isolation between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Obama was at ease when talking about the Syrian crisis, revealing to a great extent that a resolution has been already reached with the Russians – or is at least being drafted – to be announced officially during the projected Geneva II conference.

Actually, a deal between the U.S. and Iran over issues of mutual concern is not that impossible, despite the difficult diplomatic relations between them.

It is no secret that Iran helped the U.S. to invade Afghanistan and then Iraq with Tehran basing its excuse on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

This could happen again in Syria, with Iran probably making some concessions on its nuclear program for some gains in Syria. Again, history repeats itself.


Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

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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