“A video has surfaced that shows former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani clearly blaming Damascus for chemical attacks, despite the Iranian government’s claim that the media had wrongly reported his remarks,” RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports:
The video, posted on the website Bolaghnews.com, shows Rafsanjani speaking last weekend in Savad Kooh in Mazandaran Province. He says, “People are being subjected to chemical attacks by their own government and also have to wait for American bombs to fall.”
Rafsanjani’s remarks were first quoted verbatim by the semiofficial Iranian Labor News Agency on September 1. The news agency later amended its report to remove Rafsanjani blaming Damascus.
Iran and its Hezbollah ally are absolutely committed “all in” to defending the Syrian regime, a Washington forum heard today.
Far from being a paid proxy of Tehran, Hezbollah has a “deep ideological commitment” to Iran’s Islamic Republic, said Matthew Levitt, addressing a meeting to launch his new book, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God (Georgetown University Press).
A U.S. strike against Syria will have significant implications for U.S.-Iran relations, say analysts.
“The question is, if things go badly for Assad on the battlefield, at what point would Iran let the rope go?” said Mehrzad Boroujerdi, the director of the Middle East studies program at Syracuse University.
If more evidence emerged that Mr. Assad’s military had used chemical weapons, that would raise the political cost of continuing to support him, Mr. Boroujerdi tells The New York Times: .
One thing is clear: the statements by Iran’s leaders have shifted from earlier this year, when high-ranking Iranian officials said a foreign attack on Syria would be treated as an attack on Iran itself. There may even be some relief at the prospect of more direct American involvement in the Syrian conflict, which has occasionally been cast as “Iran’s Vietnam,” some analysts say.
“The reality is that Obama’s military action will make the Syrian tragedy his and not Iran’s,” wrote Farideh Farhi, an Iran scholar at the University of Hawaii, in an analysis published online at Lobelog.com. “And in Iran’s postelection environment, in which the country has moved toward national reconciliation — both among the elite and between the government and the population — nothing suits the Islamic Republic better than divesting itself from this issue quietly.”
For all their mutual antipathy, the United States and Iran may ultimately find common ground in Syria.
“The United States and Iran are fighting a zero-sum proxy war in Syria at the moment,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “If and when Assad falls, the two sides will have a mutual adversary in radical Sunni jihadists.”