Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad and his family arrived in Tehran Aug 28, landing at Khomeini Airport aboard his presidential jet. Iranian foreign ministry sources confirmed this with the Lebanese newspaper a-Nahar.
Accompanying the Assad family was a group of senior Syrian government officials who together with Assad are officially there to hold talks with the Iranian government about a Syrian response to a possible US strike on Syrian WMD assets which is expected to take place in the near future.
As this information made its way into a-Nahar, Syrian Army generals continued their dire warning that if Syria is attacked, ‘Israel will burn’ and that if Syria weakens, ‘certain irresponsible groups’ will be formed that would endanger Israel.
Pres. Assad and his family fleeing to Tehran is no surprise. Iran and Syria have been decade’s long allies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The Assad’s are Alawite Muslims, which are an offshoot of Shia Islam which is the predominant Muslim sect in Iran.
Syria under the Assad Dynasty of first Hafez and then son Bashar al-Assad were instrumental in helping Iran build, train, equip and supply the terror army known as Hezbollah in southern Lebanon to threaten Israel. Without Assad in control of Syria, Hezbollah can not survive.
Assad’s fleeing likely means a Western military strike cannot be far off. If the strike is limited strictly to a brief missile and air campaign, then Assad could return to Damascus once it’s over. If however, events lead to a sustained campaign and/or a ground invasion of Syria by Turkey, Israel or a coalition of nations then Assad’s departure will be permanent.
The most likely reason for the mass chemical weapons attack in the first place, was that Assad’s Fourth Armored Division was in danger of being overrun and they were the last line of defense in central Damascus. Rebels are likely regrouping for a renewed offensive and if Assad does not have any WMD as an option, then returning to Damascus would mean his capture or execution.
There is now a coalition of 36 nations forming for a strike on Syria including Britain, France, Turkey, Australia and Canada among the more powerful nations. It remains to be seen however, whether the United States will participate.
Pres. Obama has been dragging his feet with US allies eager to strike Syrian WMD delivery vehicles and weapons by insisting on a UN Security Council Resolution on Syria, awaiting a UN weapons inspector report when those inspectors have indefinitely postponed any further inspections; and telling world leaders that there has to be accountability assigned before any strike can be authorized.
The governments of Britain, France and Turkey have indicated a willingness to go ahead without the UN on board and have each called their respective Parliaments in to special session for legislative authorization for the use of force. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan has taken the further measure of asking the Turkish Parliament for a new mandate with language allowing him to act in Syria without a UN mandate or NATO sanction. The existing Syria mandate required one or the other for anything more than defensive operations.
Pres. Assad fleeing to Iran, and with wife and family in tow along with senior regime cronies, is indication that and attack is forthcoming with or without the United States onboard and that someone has tipped off Assad that the attack is pending.