News — 29 October 2015

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 28

By Umid Niayesh – Trend:

Iran seems to be far more involved in the situation in Syria than just a military advisory capacity, Paul J. Sullivan, a US expert on security issues told Trend Oct. 28.

He made the remarks while commenting on Iranian officials’ statements that Tehran only provides consultation to the Syrian Army and is not directly involved in the fights.

In most recent statements on Oct. 27, deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami emphasized that Iranian military advisors teach high and middle-ranking Syrian officers and provide consultation to Syrian army.

Meanwhile Sullivan believes that the comment by the Deputy Commander contradicts the facts on the ground.

“There are greater numbers of IRGC casualties because they are in the battles and they have been in the battles for some time. It is likely that there are many more of them than in the past,” Sullivan, who is a professor at the US National Defense University, said.

Iranian semi-official news agencies announced Oct. 27 that the number of the IRGC casualties in Syria reached 20 in the last week. Explaining the intensified casualties in recent days, Salami, said that Tehran has increased its presence in Syria in terms of “quantity and quality.”

IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif also said that the IRGC has boosted the number of its advisors in Syria in recent days.

While responding a question about advantages of collecting new experiences by the IRGC in Syria in true battleground, Sullivan said that the experience the IRGC is getting in Syria could prove to be quite effective experience, training and education for Iran ‘s future battles in other areas.

“ Iran seems to be in a permanently adversarial position in the region. I expect them to be further involved in many other parts of the region.”

He further said that any political training and indoctrination by the IRGC in Syria will grow greater Shia militancy in Syria, and even in the region as a whole which could be a source of many conflicts of the future.

The expert also touched upon the issue of establishing a militia power in Syria by Iran saying the development of alternative forces within Syria parallel to the Syrian Army could be the seed for even greater trouble in Syria — and also in Lebanon.

“The entire project by the IRGC in Syria could prove in the medium run to be an increasing threat to Israel and a further destabilizing influence in Iraq. Iran ‘s growing power in Syria could also lead to greater instability in Bahrain and other places.”

It should be noted that the IRGC commander, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari confirmed that Tehran has a decisive role in organizing Syrian pro-government militia.

He said Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, who was killed in Syria on Oct. 8, went to Syria four years ago once the riots started, to organize “popular forces,” adding, today some 100,000 militia forces are organized in Syria due to efforts of Hamedani.

While responding a question about possibility of using the militia forces by Iran against Bashar Al Assad in the future in case of contradicting the interests, the expert said that Russia and Iran are in Syria for their own reasons.

If they see Al-Assad as a liability, or as not effective for their goals, they will, using the American expression, “throw him under the bus,” Sullivan said.

“Assad is an expendable leader for them no matter what Iran and Russia say otherwise. Iran and Russia are very rough players in a very rough game.”

He further said that Assad might want to figure out an exit strategy beyond those two countries “helping him”.

He should also work, as should the others involved in this Syrian nightmare, for a better future for the people of Syria, Sullivan said, underlining that Syria is now a pawn in much larger wars.

“The Syrian people are suffering from this to such an extent that the world should weep, but the world mostly is sleepwalking through the catastrophe.”

Edited by CN

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