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Iran Seeks To Save Assad

Smoke rises from the suburb of Erbeen in Damascus, Syria. (file)
Smoke rises from the suburb of Erbeen in Damascus, Syria. (file)

Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspends Syria for massacres. Iran calls suspension "unjust".

At its recent summit in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria, and expressed “deep concern at the massacres and inhuman acts suffered by the Syrian people.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland commended the OIC and said in a statement that the move “underscores the Assad regime’s increasing international isolation and the widespread support for the Syrian people and their struggle for a democratic state that represents their aspirations and respect for human rights.”

Assad’s staunch ally, Iran, had a different response, calling the suspension of Syria by the OIC “unfair and unjust.”

Iran’s support for the Syrian government has not wavered in the face of the increasingly brutal 18-month assault that Bashar al Assad has led against the Syrian people. And that support by Iran extends far beyond the diplomatic and rhetorical.

At a news briefing with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke of the Iranian regime’s increasing activity in Syria:

“It is obvious to both General Dempsey and I that Iran is playing a larger role in Syria in many ways, not only in terms of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], but in terms of assistance, training. There’s now an indication that they’re trying to develop or trying to train a militia within Syria to be able to fight on behalf of the regime. So we are seeing a growing presence by Iran, and that is of deep concern to us.”

General Dempsey noted that the lengthy uprising against the Assad regime in Syria is taking a toll on government forces:

“I actually think that’s why Iran is stepping in to form this militia, to take some of the pressure off of the Syrian military.”

Defense Secretary Panetta said that what Iran is doing is adding to the killing in Syria in the hope of bolstering a regime which “ultimately is going to come down.” In any event, said Mr. Panetta, “we have got to make sure that Iran does not. . .try to determine the future of the Syrian people. The Syrian people ought to determine their own future, not Iran.”