As usual, any claims from both sides in the Syrian Civil War have to be taken with heaping grains of salt because both sides have proven to be liars who produce metric tons of propaganda that turns out to be false.
Still this is the perspective of the Sunni side in the war. And it indicates why Iran is having so much trouble reaching out to the new Islamist Middle East.
The former prime minister of Syria delivered a harsh critique of the country’s president during an interview with al-Arabiya Friday, claiming that “not even the Nazis did what Bashar Assad’s doing in Syria.”
Assad and the Sunni rebels combined seem to have killed about 90,000 people. It’s unclear how many of the dead are civilians, but considering that Muslim fighters tend to launch rapid raids and then withdraw, especially when the odds are against them, but are pretty good at killing unarmed civilians, there probably is a high civilian death toll. Most fighters in the Muslim world tend to be killed while running away from a fight.
90,000 is nowhere near Nazi territory. But then again the Islamists and their leftist Western allies routinely claim that Israel is the new Nazi Germany after battles where a thousand die, most of them enemy fighters, so the lesson here is that Holocaust Deniers tend to set a low bar for being “worse than Nazis.”
Riad Hijab, who defected from his post in Damascus six months ago, also told the Arabic-language news outlet that Iran is “actively running” Syria.
“Syria is occupied by the Iranian regime,” he said. “Who runs the country isn’t Bashar Assad but Kassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s al-Quds Brigades [within the Revolutionary Guards].”
Unlike much of the Anti-Assad propaganda this is marginally plausible because Assad hasn’t exactly shown that he can win this war and the Revolutionary Guard has more expertise in guerrilla warfare.
Assad’s setbacks have led Iran to adopt a guerrilla model, radicalizing and transforming the Alawite Shiite population into militias resembling those of the opposition. And since Syria is largely dependent on Iran and Russia, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Revolutionary Guard which is reportedly now calling the shots in Iran is also calling the shots in Syria.
But the Sunni propaganda thrust has been that Iran is pulling out. Al Jazeera has kept putting out stories claiming that Iran is withdrawing from Syria. Now they’re claiming that Iran is in control of Syria. The narrative shift may have emerged out of Ahmadinejad’s botched visit to Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood clearly failed to convince him to pull out and turn over Syria to the Brotherhood… not that Ahmadinejad even has that authority any longer.
If Iran is actually in control of the Syrian government and military, then this fight may truly get bloody. The Iran-Iraq War was a vicious conflict. Iran would not be too enthusiastic about a repeat of that much bloodshed, but Turkey and Qatar appear to be.