Iranian Parliament. Topic C: Syrian Conflict Response

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1 Iranian Parliament Topic C: Syrian Conflict Response Chair: Andrew Abtahi Moderator: Siddarth Daftary Vice Chairs: Nida Bajwa and Daniel Toubman Crisis Staffers: Coretta Lemaitre, Thomas Key April 10 13, 2014 Abtahi 1

2 Syrian Conflict Response This background is written similar to the press releases coming from Iran and is in line with the political dialogue in the Iranian government. In no way do the statements made in this background guide reflect the opinions of NUMUN and the Dais Staff. The point of this background guide is to familiarize delegates with Iranian media and policy. Introduction: The Iranian Parliament will be addressing the Syrian crisis in a different manner than usual. While the other topics will be addressed by a resolution, the Syrian topic shall be addressed by a statement that is intended for the Supreme Leader. The statement will not be made public and should be considered a private intergovernmental memorandum. The Iranian Parliament is in an interesting place within the Iranian Government. Some outside observers foolishly believe that the Iranian Parliament is simply a façade for Iranian democracy. They do not completely understand the effect public opinion and the Parliament that represents it have on the internal and external affairs of the country. What is expected from the body is a collection of possible steps for Iran to take concerning the Syrian crisis. The Parliament s statement should reflect the will of the people based in Islamic law that has guided this country to greatness. The Western powers and their allies have failed the Syrian people. Iran is a regional power that has the ability to positively affect the outcome in Syria more than any of the Western powers can. It is an interest for the Syrian and Iranian people that a peaceful solution comes to fruition. As a leader in the region, the Iranian government should be the major player in bringing peace back to Syria. The Iranian Parliament should make this issue a top Abtahi 2

3 priority so that the Iranian people are represented in the policy concerning Syria and the conflict that has affected so many of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Abtahi 3

4 Background and Current Situation: The conflict in Syria is reaching its 3 year anniversary with little hope that violence will subdue. The situation has left millions of people fleeing to their homes and created a humanitarian crisis. The Western powers have tried to step into the situation and have utterly failed to come up with a solution. The talks in Geneva have simply delayed and strained tensions between the parties with no real progress to stop the violence between the rival parties. The issues of chemical weapons have shocked outside observers, but that still does not stop the fact that people are dying every day. The region is already facing a lot of pressure due to the refugee situation with many Palestinians displaced by the Zionist Regime. Syrians fleeing the violence have joined refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan with new ones opening up in Turkey. The Iranian government has recognized the plight of the Syrians and has made it clear that they would aid the refugees in the conflict as much as possible. Iran has found an ally in Switzerland that has teamed up with Iranian humanitarian efforts to help the people on the ground. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs met with Belgian officials to outline the country s aid to the Syrian people. The number of Western powers who are looking to make a difference by working with Iran are few but there are still many rational nations out there. Sadly, the U.N negotiation efforts have failed to bring Iran to the table. Secretary General Ban-ki Moon gave Iran an invitation to the Geneva talks between the conflicting parties on January 19 th. After protest from the United States, Iran s invitation was rescinded and unsurprisingly the Geneva talks did little to help solve the conflict or help the Syrian People. The Western media and states seem to believe that the Iranian agenda is to keep instability and violence in the region. Iran s official position is in line with regional rival, Qatar. Both nations believe that the only way for peace to return to Syria is through a political solution with both sides recognizing their differences. Abtahi 4

5 The United States have made it clear that Assad will have to step down for anything to move forward in negotiations. What the Arab League, United States, and other diplomatic parties have put too much faith in the Syrian National Council. In the beginning of the conflict, the SNC did have a strong foothold in rebellion but that is no longer the case. The Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have become the major military forces for the opposition of Assad. They have all but replaced the disorganized Syrian National Council from many of their strongholds. Recently leader of the Al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammad al-jawlani, announced that both ISIS and the SNC are infidels and encouraged their fighters and other rebel groups to unite against them. That is unlikely this Assad s opponents are extremely disorganized and vary. Both ISIS and the Al-Nusra have pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and claim they are the true representative of Al- Qaeda in Syria. ISIS has been associated with the increased violence in Iraq that is focused on Shiite Mosque and parts of Iraq. The Al-Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for attacks in Beirut. The fighters for both of these groups are not native Syrians, with people from all across the world coming to join their extremist cause. It is safe to say that the disorder in Syria is allowing both ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front a base for their extremist ideologies. It is a well known that Al-Qaeda has always targeted Shiites. Assad represents a Shiite led government so it was clear from the start of the revolution that extremist groups would take advantage of the loss of centralization in Syria. The SNC welcomed the foreign help but now they are a sideshow to the real battle going on between Assad s forces and these extremist groups. Hezbollah s entrance in the conflict has been getting more press in the West than the rise of these Al-Qaeda linked groups. Many point to Hezbollah s activity as a further sign of Iranian involvement. While the Iranian government does support Hezbollah, it only makes sense that they enter the conflict on the side of Assad. The Syrian Regime has long supported Hezbollah and Abtahi 5

6 allowed Iranian weapons and military aid to reach the group. Hezbollah is simply following their interest and believing their joining the fight on orders from Tehran questions their real organizational autonomy. Hezbollah s mission statement is to protect the people of Lebanon from the Zionist regime. The conflict in Syria has put the people of Lebanon in danger though as illustrated by the bombings in Beirut accredited to the Al-Nusra Front. Hezbollah is not just providing support to their benefactor, but protecting the Lebanese people relies that the extremist groups to make headway in Syria. The West believes that Hezbollah s involvement has increased violence and has allowed Assad to make military advances to stay in power. Even if Assad were to fall, the disorganized moderate SNC is not ensured a spot in power as ISIS and the al-nusra Front have overpowered them in many rebel controlled regions. While the U.S has often stated that the country cannot move forward with Assad in power, the quickest way to stability in Syria might be for Assad to regain control of the country. The many extremist Islamist groups will not have a base in the region for their attacks that have targeted Shiites populations in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Abtahi 6

7 Bloc Positions: Conservative Members: Conservative members will take a more religious stance on this issue. Members from Qom and Mashad, with strong religious institutions, believe that Iran is the protector of Shiite Islam and will want more support for the Assad regime and Hezbollah to fight off the Al-Qaeda linked groups. Iran does not publically support Hezbollah but it is well known that the Iranian government supplies and has significant influence on the group. Reform Members: Reform members of Parliament are less outspoken about foreign affairs and usually agree on most major issues concerning international relations. They are quicker to look for diplomatic solutions and will agree with the public position of the Iranian government that a political solution is required to create a peaceful solution in Syria. The diplomatic solution seems to be far away but the reform members will continue to demand the government to follow up reaching out to Western powers that have taken the lead in negotiating peace in Syria. Minority Members: Assyrians will have the most interest concerning the unrest in Syria. ISIS has targeted Churches in Iraq along with their attacks on Shiites. Other minority groups will want to ensure the safety of religious and cultural groups. It is safe to say that the Assad Regime will do a better job in protecting minorities than the Al-Qaeda linked groups leading the fighting against Assad. Abtahi 7

8 Questions to Consider: 1. Should Iran support a political solution if it calls for Assad to step down? 2. What kind of support should the Revolutionary Guard members provide to Syrian security forces? 3. Should Iran pressure Hezbollah to provide more or less support to Assad? Is there any merit to Western concerns that Hezbollah escalates violence in the conflict? 4. What steps, if any, should Iran take to reach out to Western and rival states to help reach a political solution in Syria? 5. Assad s has been implicated in crimes against humanity; does Iran pressure him to change his methods? 6. Does Iran reach out to Russia to dictate Assad s policy in dealing with the rebels? 7. How does Iran, change the international conversation to focus on terror groups taking advantage of Syria s lack of centralization? Abtahi 8

9 Recommended Sources: An Iranian news outlet that will provide the perspective that differs greatly from Western media sources. Similar to Press TV, provides Iranian perspectives on International events. A Middle Eastern perspective on Iranian- U.S relations concerning Syria Abtahi 9

10 Works Cited "Assad Considers Iran Only Reliable Supporter of Syria: Iranian MP." Tasnim News Agency. N.p., 02 Mar Web. 02 Mar <http://www.tasnimnews.com/english/home/single/300474>. Fulton, Will, and Saw Wyer. "Iranian Strategy in Syria." Institute for the Study of War. American Enterprise Institute, May Web. 02 Mar <http://www.understandingwar.org/report/iranian-strategy-syria>. Gordon, Michael R., and Anne Barnard. "Talks Over Syria Are Set to Begin, but Iran Is Not Invited." The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Jan Web. 02 Mar <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/world/middleeast/syria.html?_r=0>. "Hezbollah Leader Nasrallah Vows to Keep Fighters in Syria." BBC News. N.p., 16 Feb Web. 02 Mar <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east >. Marquardt, Alexander. "Hezbollah and Al Qaeda Fighters Edging Closer to Full Scale Confrontation." ABC News. ABC News Network, 10 May Web. 02 Mar <http://abcnews.go.com/international/hezbollah-al-qaeda-fighters-edging-closerconfrontation/story?id= >. Week in Review. "New US Syria Policy Should Engage Iran - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East." Al-Monitor. N.p., 14 Feb Web. 02 Mar <http://www.almonitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/syria-us-should-engage-iran-russia.html>. Abtahi 10

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