Iran declares victory in Syria

Sure, the Iranians are jerks, and they’re given to making a lot of bloodcurdling threats and chest-thumping boasts.  But is what they’re saying in this UK Guardian piece wrong?

In a series of interviews in Tehran, top figures who shape Iranian foreign policy said the west’s strategy in Syria had merely encouraged radicals, caused chaos and ultimately backfired, with government forces now on the front foot.

“We have won in Syria,” said Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee and an influential government insider. “The regime will stay. The Americans have lost it.”

Terrorism perpetrated by al-Qaida-linked jihadist groups and individuals armed and funded by Sunni Muslim Arab countries was now the main threat facing the Syrian people, Borujerdi said. Many foreign fighters who had travelled to Syria from Britain and other European countries could soon return. “We are worried about the future security of Europe,” he said.

Amir Mohebbian, a conservative strategist and government adviser, said: “We won the game in Syria easily. The US does not understand Syria. The Americans wanted to replace Assad, but what was the alternative? All they have done is encourage radical groups and made the borders less safe.

“We accept the need for change in Syria – but gradually. Otherwise, there is chaos.”

Yes, I’m sure the mullahs of Iran sit up all night, worried sick about “the future security of Europe.”  But that’s the most openly risible thing said in this article.  Whatever chance might ever have existed for “regime change” was frittered away by the Obama Administration, especially the colossal fool John Kerry, who handed Russia the leverage it needed to toss the United States out of not just Syria, but much of the Middle East.  I’ll put down some chips now and predict we’ll learn the full extent of the damage inflicted on American foreign policy by this Administration of whiny teenagers about halfway through the first term of Obama’s successor.

Whatever Obama was trying to accomplish in Syria, it was misbegotten every step of the way, from his “red line” bluster to an absurd belief that he could just toss a few guns to Assad’s enemies, without taking a good long look at who they were.  The same long-term strategy and clarity of objectives displayed by Assad and his patrons in Moscow and Tehran were wholly absent from Team Obama, which blundered from Hillary Clinton hailing the butcher of Damascus as a “reformer” to Obama racing around Washington and trying to gin up support for a bombing campaign.  At no point during this circus did Obama or his people ever convey a sense that they understood what they were trying to accomplish, what they had to work with, who their adversaries were, who their allies were, or how fully their opposition was willing to commit to preserving the Assad regime.

It’s difficult to win an indifferently-pursued campaign, viewed by Obama as an annoying distraction from his avocation of “transforming America,” against a ruthless dictator with powerful patrons battling an existential challenge to his power, and probably his personal survival.  Iran and Russia had a lot to gain by winning in Syria; Bashar Assad had everything to lose; Barack Obama and John Kerry think the greatest threat facing the world is “climate change.”  The results of this, and every other foreign crisis Obama’s team has tried to slouch its way through, are not surprising.