U.S. attacks on IS in Syria not in Iran’s interest

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 11

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a televised address to the nation that the United States would strike at the Islamic State in in Iraq and in Syria, too, if needed. This is not at all in Iran's interest. The Islamic Republic has failed to incorporate the Syrian regime into the anti-IS coalition, an Iranian expert says.

Syrian president, Bashar Assad has no place in the United States new anti-IS strategy, despite all efforts made by Iran, Hassan Hashemian, Iranian expert on Arab region issues told Trend on Sept. 11.

Hashemian also said that Iran itself will be excluded from international anti-IS efforts in Syria, but may be permitted to continue its current position in Iraq.

Iran first tried to dissuade the U.S. from attacking the IS in Syria, the expert explained. When it failed, as second step the Islamic Republic tried to be a part of the coalition that would have made Assad a strategic ally of anti-terrorism coalition.

However, the U.S. refused to accept Iran's participation and over 40 countries including some regional countries which are against Iran's policies in Syria will be part of the coalition, Hashemian underlined.

What will be Iran's reaction towards the forecasted air strikes?

Raymond Tanter, the president of Iran Policy Committee Publishing, believes that Iran is likely to condemn any violation of Syrian airspace and double down on its support for Assad in view of prospective U.S. air attacks and support for Free Syrian Army.

Tanter who served at the White House as a Senior Member on the National Security Council staff told Trend that Tehran can support Assad even more by ordering additional Hezbollah forces into the fight against the Free Syria Army before it becomes more of an effective fighting force with training in Saudi Arabia.

Iran also might transfer more units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force units to Syria, from where they are operating now in Iraq, Tanter said. He went on to add that Tehran could provide Assad with surface to air missiles to attack American aircraft operating in eastern Syria, but it is unlikely.

Iranian officials have started making statements against the possible air strikes as well as formation of the anti-IS coalition.

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham expressed suspicion about the international anti-IS coalition, saying there are fundamental questions in the seriousness of the coalition to fight terrorism honestly. She noted that "some countries that join the coalition are supporters of the terrorists in Iraq and Syria."

Esmail Kowsari, a member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said in an interview to Trend that the IS was formed by the U.S., the UK, and Saudi Arabia, adding if the United States stops supporting the IS and prevents the Saudi administration from financing the group, the Syrian and Iraqi governments themselves will destroy the IS.

Kowsari also accused the U.S. of "deceiving world public opinion," saying "the White House will not take serious steps against the IS."

However the thesis is not accepted by many experts. Tanter says that "the Iranian idea that the IS was established by the United States is nonsense. And, neither Iraq nor Syria are capable of destroying the IS, no matter what Washington does."

Commenting on the range of the prospective air strikes, Hassan Hashemian said that it mainly would be launched in eastern Syria.

"The U.S. probably will setup a no-fly zone in that region. The no-fly zone will prevent Syrian regime to launch air attacks against opposition in the north and east," he explained. He forecasts that the process will be lengthy and detailed and the Syrian opposition plans to gradually take control of the regions which will be released from the IS militants in the long- run.

If the U.S. air strikes push back the IS militants and the Free Syrian Army holds the region, Iran and its ally Assad will be weakened.

"Assad will be forced to agree to transferring power to a transitional government," Hashemian underlined.

Iran promoted a propaganda that the Syrian regime is fighting the terrorists and Assad himself exaggerated the IS as a security threat for Israel and the U.S., he said.

Hashemian stressed that both the Iran and Syrian regime have pretended that the fall of Assad will lead to threats from the extremist groups against Israel and the West. However, recent developments indicate that the policy has failed and the U.S. plans to play an active role in resolving the Syrian crisis, he underlined.

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