Dr. Rafizadeh is a regular commentator for national and international outlets including CNN, BBC TV and radio, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, RT, CCTV and Aljazeera English. He is frequently quoted in major news outlets including CNN, BBC, Aljazeera and he regularly writes for both academic and non-academic papers such as New York Times International, Foreign Policy, Aljazeera, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, George Washington International Review, to name a few. Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.
Bashar Al Assad has been reelected as the president of Syria for an additional seven years, in an election that is not considered to be legitimate.
Since the election, Iranian authorities have been boasting about their role in keeping Assad in power and keeping their vow. This bragging comes at a time when the Obama administration is eagerly pushing for a final and comprehensive nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in Geneva, which would urge the United Nations Security Council to remove all economic and political sanctions against Iran.
Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, triumphantly and openly expressed his sense of victory by stating on the government-run Press TV, “The strategy of the US Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and European countries to overthrow Bashar al-Assad has failed,” adding, “this is a strategic failure for the Western, Arab and Zionist front and a big victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Tehran is attempting to show the failure of the US’s and other Western countries’ foreign policy initiatives and campaigns regarding the Syrian crisis. Senior Iranian officials have told the Guardian that the concentrated attempts to overthrow President Assad has failed, and this election shows that Tehran and its staunchest ally, Damascus, have won the war.
Accordingly, chairman of Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi, an influential political figure and governmental insider, pointed out, “We have won in Syria,” adding, “The regime will stay. The Americans have lost it.”
The celebratory announcements and declarations are aimed at sending political signals from the Islamic Republic to the United States and other Western countries regarding Tehran’s power and its role in the region. The Islamic Republic is asserting its ownership of Syria and the region. Tehran had even sent its observers to monitor the objectiveness and fairness of elections in Syria, in order to illustrate its possession of the country and the crisis.
A burst of announcements and declarations have come out of Iran, from top Iranian foreign policy figures, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, celebrating this victory.
The major point is that the more sanctions are eased against the Islamic Republic, the more they seem to view the United States as a weak country, and the more Iranian authorities feel emboldened to pursue their ideological, geopolitical, strategic, economic, and regional hegemonic ambitions.
President Hassan Rouhani has been inspired to ignore the international sanction and sign a trade deal worth billions of dollars with Turkey. Rouhani’s visit to Turkey this week would be the first official high-level meeting between Tehran and Ankara in nearly 20 years. Turkey has ignored American concerns regarding this deal. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamic Republic are skirting the international economic sanctions against Tehran. Turkey and the Islamic Republic have recently been implicated in several sanctions-busting schemes. These sanctions-busting schemes have assisted the Islamic Republic to evade sanctions and illicitly pay in cash.
Iranian authorities have boasted that they kept Assad in power against the will and power of the US. When it comes to Syria, Iran has spent billions of dollars in terms of financial credits, used Hezbollah to fight alongside the Syrian government forces, utilized Iraq as a territorial platform to deliver arms to Syrian forces, deployed Iraqi Shiite militias, and is currently deploying Afghan Shiites to the region according to latest reports.
Although the Islamic Republic repeatedly denies that it has deployed Iranian revolutionary troops on the ground in Syria (or it has sent officers to train Syrian governmental forces despite the valid and credible videos and reports), Iran’s military has mourned the killing of senior Revolutionary Guard officers while fighting in Syria on several occasions. Such as Abdollah Eskandari, who was killed fighting just south of Damascus, according to a statement released by the Iranian Defense Ministry. Iranian officers being killed in Syria are currently numbered at 60 “martyrs” according to Syrian opposition sources.
Syria has been used as a platform by the Islamic Republic to project its power into the Arab world since its birth in 1979. In addition, Iranian authorities are using the current Assad victory as a credible vindication for Iran’s financial, advisory, economic, and military steadfast backing of Assad’s government.
There is a strong correlation between the United States’ action to ease sanctions on Iran and Iranian authorities’ increasing announcements against the US; announcements claiming that the Americans have lost and the Islamic Republic is the winner. Iranian leaders do not view American policies to remove sanctions against Tehran as a favor or positive act. Their leaders are repeatedly characterizing the Obama administration and US as weak. They point out that these policies forged by the United States reflect her weak and declining power around the world. The question is, why have the policy advisors of the Obama administration (and President Obama himself) not acknowledged these announcements by the Iranian leaders about their increasing pursuit of regional hegemonic power and illicit trade deals as a warning to the United States and the world?