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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moussavian cites 3 major obstacles to Syrian peace

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, Dec 8, IRNA -- Iran's former nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian wrote in an article published in Huffingtonpost that there are three obstacles on the way of peace in Syria, which should be confronted initially.

Moussavian said the obstacles are: What to do with Assad; How to effectively fight terror groups in Syria; and extremist movements' ties to West's allies.

On future of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moussavian referred to differences among countries regarding future of Assad in Syria and said the Saudi Arabia-US-Turkey coalition's priority is Assad playing no role, whereas Iran and Russia's is to first purge terrorists from Syria and then hold free elections to decide the country's president, believing it is the Syrian people who should decide on who their president should be, not other countries.

Referring to recent speech of the US President Barack Obama, who declared Russia and Iran must choose either Syrian President Bashar Assad or the Syrian state. 'However, the experience of Libya these past few years shows that Obama is wrong. NATO and its Arab allies attacked Libya, overthrew Qaddafi, and have since then sat totally helpless as the country has descended into chaos and come to the verge of being a failed state.

Moussavian said it is has already been agreed in Vienna that 'Syria's unity, independence, territorial integrity, and secular character are fundamental' and that its 'state institutions will remain intact.'

It is difficult to imagine how the collapse of Assad would not portend the total collapse of establishment of Syria, he added.
And without the current Syrian military and security forces -- which are the most consequential force on the ground fighting terrorist groups like Daesh, Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra -- it would be impossible to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria, wrote Moussavian, adding that indeed, in the fight against terrorism in Syria, the forces supported by the West and its Arab allies like the Free Syrian Army have been almost completely ineffective.

Therefore, the critical priority should be to clear Syria of terrorist groups, restore the country's territorial integrity, and then leave it to Syrian people to choose their leadership through transparent, free and fair elections.

The second key obstacle to a sustainable peace in Syria has to do with how to effectively fight and destroy terrorist groups in the country like ISIL, said Moussavian, adding the fact is that airstrikes are only effective when conducted in support of a well-organized military partner on the ground. In Syria, the largest and most effective ground force fighting ISIL and other terrorist groups is the Syrian military, which is supported by Russia and Iran, said Moussavian, adding that regional US allies, on the other hand, have been supporting many of the terrorist groups fighting the Syrian army.

The United States and its allies need to understand that it is impossible to fight ISIL and the Assad government simultaneously, opined Moussavian. To form the necessary coalition of air and ground forces to destroy Daesh, cooperation between the Syrian army, Russia and Iran is vital and recent terrorist attacks on Paris make such cooperation even more necessary.

The third dilemma is the reality that extremist movements such as Al Qaeda, Daesh and the like draw their ideology as well as the vast majority of their weaponry and financial support from the closest allies of the West in the region, wrote Moussavian. It is time to realize that because Daesh is first and foremost an ideology and culture, not merely a militia.

As former US Ambassador Curtin Winsor, who was special emissary to the Middle East at the beginning of the Reagan administration, wrote in 2007:

The Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad during the past two decades ... The bulk of this funding goes to the construction and operating expenses of mosques, madrassas, and other religious institutions that preach Wahhabism. It also supports the training of imams; domination of mass media and publishing outlets; distribution of Wahhabi textbooks and other literature; and endowments to universities. By comparison, the Communist Party of the USSR and its Comintern spent just over $7 billion propagating its ideology worldwide between 1921 and 1991.

The first day that Russia launched military strikes against terrorist groups in Syria, a prominent citizen of a US ally in the region told me at a conference in Berlin, 'we will make Russia bleed.' The blowing up of a Russian passenger plane claimed by Daesh and a Russian military jet by Turkey are steps in that direction.

What the major Western powers need to keep in mind is that their efforts in the past few decades to transform certain countries through military and political intervention have failed, said Moussavian, adding that in Syria, this approach has led to a 'secular' political order coming to the edge of being overthrown in favor of a Salafi-Wahhabi Islamic state taking control of the country. Until this approach is abandoned in favor of pragmatism, the war on terror will not end and terrorist attacks in the West and elsewhere will continue, he concluded.

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