NIGHTWATCH: Iran-Syria

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Iran-Syria: Iran rejected any Yemeni-like scenario in Syria, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Abdollahian who spoke to the press on 8 February at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus. Abdollahian added that Iranians recently kidnapped in Syria were released after Turkish mediation.

Comment: The visit by the Iranian Deputy Foreign Ministry corresponds to reports that the Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force Major General Sulemani had arrived in Damascus to assist in the defense of the Syrian Alawite government. At least one other news service reported — without good sourcing — that a large number of IRGC forces are present in Damascus.

Open sources are unable to confirm the reports about Sulemani’s visit and the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps soldiers in Damascus. The logic of the situation is that Iran needs to take action to prevent a strategic disaster. The unconfirmed reports suggest it has begun to do so.

However, the deployment of Persians to Syria does not seem a likely first option. On the other hand, Sulemani, in person, might have gone to Damascus to offer his expert advice on destroying subversive movements.

All news services suggest that the struggle to control Homs will determine the future of the anti-al-Asad uprising. If that prediction is accurate, then the Alawites should win, provided that Bashar al-Asad and his generals have the same strength of will that his father and his generals had in ordering the destruction of Hama in February 1982, when Sunni rebels, including the Muslim Brotherhood, held the town briefly.

If the Syrian Sunni uprising hinges on the fate of Homs, it will lose, not only because the Alawites will not hesitate to destroy rebel enclaves in the town, but also because many residents of Homs will side with the government to destroy the outlaw gangs, posing as rebels, according to sources in Homs.

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