June 5, 2013 | Quote
Inaction in Syria Emboldens Iran
The United States continues to embolden Iran by not intervening in the Syrian civil war, according to testimony by security experts at a House subcommittee Wednesday.
The panel of experts at the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing discussed the regional consequences of U.S. policy toward Syria and the options for getting involved in the conflict. President Barack Obama has thus far decided against imposing a no-fly zone in Syria and arming rebel groups, a signal that Iran is paying close attention to as it attempts to develop nuclear weapons, the experts said.
Obama previously said the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line.” Recent findings by France, Britain, and the United Nations suggest that toxic chemicals like sarin gas have been used in Syria.
Rep. Brian Higgins (D., N.Y.) compared the conflict to the Iraq War.
“The hard reality of this is this nation has to figure it out. We can’t always nation-build in the Middle East,” he said.
Victory by Assad would cede a key strategic ally to Iran in the region, said Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Badran said a specific strategy integrating the use of weapons against Syrian airfields and intelligence from Turkey and Jordan to lead rebel groups would ensure Iran does not retain a conduit into the Levant region.
“The U.S. should clearly state that the maintenance of Iranian influence in Syria is antithetical to U.S. interests,” he said.
More than 80,000 people have died and millions of refugees have been expelled into surrounding countries in the Syrian conflict.
The situation appears to have worsened for the rebels amid reports that they could no longer hold the town of al-Qusayr, a strategic town on the southern border with Lebanon and a supply route for Hezbollah.