Tehran and Damascus signed an agreement to open a $1 billion line of credit.
It’s been almost two years since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned his guns on peaceful anti-government protesters, opening a campaign of repression and brutality that has led to the deaths of 60,000 Syrians. Thousands more languish in prison and millions have fled their homes. As Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative for the UN and Arab Leage on the Syrian crisis said recently, the violence in Syria has reached “unprecedented levels of horror.”
The United States has been working with countries across the globe to isolate the Assad regime and to cut off access to the supplies and support the regime needs to wage war against the Syrian people. But the unprecedented levels of horror have not diminished the Iranian government’s long-time support for its ally Assad.
In January, Tehran and Damascus signed an agreement to open a $1 billion line of credit that will permit Syrian importers to purchase Iranian supplies without cash transfers. Iran also agreed to provide engineering services and equipment for the transmission of electrical power through Syria. A top aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader announced that an attack on the Assad regime by foreign forces would be regarded by as an attack on Iran itself.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland spoke of Iran’s complicity in Assad’s campaign against the Syrian people, and called Iran “basically his co-fighter”:
“We’ve been concerned for more than a year now about the Iranian regime’s aiding and abetting of the Assad regime, whether it’s in financial terms, whether it’s in terms of military training, whether it’s in terms of material support. The Iranian Government’s position has showed its complete disregard for the lives and the well-being of the Syrian people, and they are continuing to pursue this bankrupt policy that is endangering not only the Syrian people but the region as a whole.”
Despite Iran and Assad’s brutal efforts, however, Assad’s grip on power, as President Barack Obama has noted, is slipping: “The Assad regime will come to an end. The Syrian people will have their chance to forge their own future. And they will continue to find a partner in the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said.
But how will the Syrian people regard the partnership between Assad and the regime in Tehran that provided him with assistance to arrest, torture and kill?