Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl)
Syrian President Bashar Assad should restrain his violent crackdown on Syrian
protesters and enter talks with the opposition, Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad said Wednesday.
“There should be talks” between the Syrian
government and its opponents, Ahmadinejad told Portuguese media in an interview
in Tehran, according to AP. “A military solution is never the right
“We believe that freedom and justice and respect for others
are the rights of all nations. All governments have to recognize these
rights,” he said. “Problems have to be dealt with through
“Other countries in the region can help the Syrian government
and people to talk to each other with a view to resolving their differences and
introducing the reforms that are needed,” Ahmadinejad said.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said last month that Assad should answer the
legitimate demands of his people.
Iran, the Syrian regime’s foremost
ally, has blamed the US and Israel for the unrest, while Washington has accused
Iran of helping Assad crush the popular revolt.
Syrian forces backed by
tanks killed at least 20 civilians in the city of Homs on Wednesday, in one of
the fiercest military assaults on urban centers to crush six months of
pro-democracy protests, activists and residents said. Residents said the assault
concentrated on old districts that have seen daily street demonstrations
demanding Assad’s removal.
It came as the Arab League said that its
secretary general will visit Syria on Saturday and Arab foreign ministers will
meet next week to convey concerns over the crackdown.
former head of Israeli military intelligence said that the UN – in failing to
impose the kind of tough measures that helped oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
– had effectively given Assad a “license to kill.”
got a ‘license to kill,’” Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Amos Yadlin told Ben Birnbaum
of the Washington Times. “Not formal, not explicit, but he understood that
unlike Libya, there will not be a Security Council resolution because Russia
will protect him.”
“He understood that the Arab League is not willing to
ask America or NATO to attack him, so he is basically immune from international
intervention, which means he can do what Gaddafi was not allowed to do.” Yadlin
also noted that unlike the Libyan ex-leader, Assad retains the loyalty of the
bulk of his military.
Yadlin, now a visiting fellow at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, co-wrote a policy paper in May arguing that
would be a favorable outcome for Israel despite uncertainty about over who might
“At that time, I was a lone voice,” Yadlin said. “I think by
now, many in Israel and [the US] understand that it will probably be better if
he goes.” Yadlin said Assad is most threatened by Syria’s ailing economy, but
added that Iran has the resources to prevent its ally from economic
“If the Iranians take care of it and write him a check for $5
billion a year, he is safe,” Yadlin said of the Syrian president.
former spymaster said that with a resurgent Iran helping Hezbollah, the
extremist group is unlikely to be significantly affected in the event of Assad’s
“It used to be Syria controlling Hezbollah and Iran
helping. Now it’s Iran using Syria as a corridor – as a pipe, as an agent
– to help Hezbollah,” Yadlin said. “So instead of sending weapons through
Damascus International Airport, they will do it through Turkey or through the
Mediterranean. It’s less convenient, but it won’t dry Hezbollah.”