The Americans, who are typically highly reluctant to acknowledge the Iran-sized elephant in the room, are saying that the Iranians are helping Assad crush the Syrian protest movement (200 dead at last count, and there are now reports that soldiers who refuse to fire on protesters are themselves being shot). No one can purport to be surprised by Iran’s backing of the dictator, but there are implications to US officials saying it out loud.
It suggests that it’s dawned on the State Department — perhaps even on Hillary, for whose risible characterization of Assad as a “reformer” she is rightly being pilloried — that while an Iranian takeover of a post-Assad Syria is a definite possibility, the Syrian people will not welcome the prospect of submitting to the regime that helped Assad mow down their countrymen. And that is a resentment that can be leveraged.
If it is publicly recognized in the West that Iran is helping Assad carry out his domestic bloodbath, Westerners might ultimately be just a little less credulous about accepting an Iranian proxy as the grand savior of the Syrian people. It is not a foregone conclusion that a post-Assad Syria will go the way of south Lebanon — indeed, the protesters of Daraa are already chanting “No to Iran, no to Hezbollah!” It’s good to see that the Americans are listening.