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Iran vows support for Syria against 'conspiracies'
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON
03/02/2013
Davutoglu accuses Assad of inaction after IAF strike, suggests failure to respond is due to "secret agreement" with Israel.
 
Saeed Jalili, the head of the Supreme National Security Council in Iran, said on Saturday that Tehran would offer full support for Syria as it faces internal and external threats, as reported the AFP.

“We will give all our support so that Syria remains firm and able to face all the arrogant [Western powers’] conspiracies,” said Saeed Jalili.

“The Israeli aggression and arrogant international forces have tried to take revenge by attacking the resisting Syrian people.” Jalili last visited Damascus in August.

Following reports of alleged Israeli strikes in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “Why didn’t [Syrian President Bashar] Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country?” according to a report in the Turkish daily Hurriyet.

“Why didn’t the Syrian army, which has been attacking its own innocent people for 22 months now from the air with jets and by land with tanks and artillery fire, respond to Israel’s operation? Why can’t Assad, who gave the order to fire Scud missiles in Aleppo, do anything against Israel?” Davutoglu asked.

He went on to threaten Israel, saying that Turkey would have a response to any attack it made against any Muslim country.

“Is there a secret agreement between Assad and Israel? Wasn’t the Syrian army founded to protect its country and its people against this sort of aggression? The Assad regime only abuses. Why don’t you use the same power that you use against defenseless women against Israel, which you have seen as an enemy since its foundation?” he asked.

Middle Eastern media reaction to the strikes was generally critical of both Israel and Assad.

Cihan Celik, writing in the Hurriyet, blamed the attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s internal political considerations.

“The political draining after the bittersweet poll victory and the growing pressure from his ultranationalist allies might have led him to make a military call in the midst of the fierce negotiations for the next cabinet,” he wrote, adding that the second alleged reason for the attack was to send a message to Hezbollah that Israel was still vigilant despite the US withdrawal from the region.

Celik concluded that Assad will use the attacks to rally his divided country.

“If there is anything that can bring alienated Arab public opinion together with leaders – whether allied or not – it is ‘resistance” against Israel,’” he stated.

Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the popular Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi wrote an article in which he mentioned many of Celik’s conclusions, but added that “Israel clearly calculated that the prospects of the Lebanese party [Hezbollah] responding to the air strike raid are far greater than the prospects of a response by the Syrian regime.”

Atwan also lamented what he considered to be Arab nations’ helplessness in confronting Israel, saying, “As Arabs and Muslims, we now feel ashamed as we watch Israeli aircraft bomb weapons convoys and stores in Sudan, sink ships in the Red Sea, attack other convoys in the Libyan desert while on their way to Sinai and then on to Gaza, and destroy newly built nuclear reactors in the farthest area in northeastern Syria without being intercepted by anyone.”

“We conclude by noting that President Assad’s popularity increased immediately after Israel carried out an aggression against him, and his popularity will surely increase many fold if he retaliates for this aggression,” he wrote.

Nahed Hattar, writing in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar called on Syria to respond to the “Israeli aggression,” and said that such action would help in its internal strife, as all warring parties would unite against the Jewish state.

“I do not know why the Syrian leadership has decided to swallow the Israeli blow. It cannot be comprehended from the viewpoint of objective strategic analysis. Contrary to the authoritarian security response, which gives precedence to internal fighting, war against the Israelis right now would deliver a blow to the political and moral positions of the armed groups; it would arouse Syrian nationalist pride that could overshadow Syria’s sectarian and ethnic fissures,” he wrote.

“The lack of a response to this latest Israeli aggression cannot be justified under any pretext. Why didn’t the air defenses move against the attacking Israeli aircrafts? Why wasn’t there an immediate response? More importantly, why did the Syrian reply come in the form of a press statement and devoid, at least, of a threat to respond if the attack is renewed?”
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