Seyyed Morteza Nemat-Zadeh, former cultural attaché to Syria and current Middle East affairs analyst, has referred to the rationale behind Iran’s policy on the ongoing Syrian crisis. Key points:
- Cost of supporting Assad - There is a difference between theoretical and practical discussions with regard to Iran’s support of Assad. There may be some political centers in Iran that have different theoretical views on this issue. For example, they might analyze the costs of supporting Assad. In practice, however, the dominant concept at this point is supporting Assad against the opposition groups, which with the support of foreign countries pursue the downfall of the Syrian government.
- Gradual change needed to maintain resistance front - In order to maintain this structure which supports the resistance, changes must happen gradually. It means that Iran, in the long run, has no sensitivity on Assad remaining in power. If power is gradually transferred, the system can be maintained; but if this change occurs as a hasty development, there is no guarantee that power will be rendered to a national and popular movement.
- Resistance front targeted - The point here is that what is being attacked is a structure which has a revolutionary approach and which supports the resistance front.
- Supporting the people - Iran’s position regarding the Syrian issue can be defined in two sentences: supporting the people against the government and supporting the government against foreign enemies.
- Moral obligation - Perhaps Iran feels morally obligated to support a regime, which during the 8-year war with Iraq, defended it against the unanimous support of Western and Arab countries for Saddam. Thus, it seems impossible that Iran would leave Syria alone now that it is being attacked by the same countries.