The Islamic Struggle in Syria
The Islamic Struggle in Syria
In recent times, Muslim peoples have generally lived in ignorance of each other. Even neighboring peoples, such as the Turks and the Iranians, have known very little of what transpires on the other side of their common frontier; and remarkably few Muslims have a detailed and precise understanding of the social, political, and cultural circumstances of countries other than their own. This lack of mutual awareness-powerfully fostered by the superpowers and their surrogates-has brought about a particularly damaging form of separation among Muslims. Even Muslims trying to establish an Islamic order in their own homelands have often failed to appreciate the situation confronting their brethren elsewhere. This book will help Muslims in other parts of the world understand the Islamic struggle in Syria.
It is particularly imperative that the people and government of the Islamic Republic of Iran take stock of the current situation in Syria, together with its antecedents, with a view to revising Iranian policy toward that country. The Islamic Revolution of Iran has aroused enthusiasm in the Muslim world, and its potential for realizing Islamic unity is unparalleled by any other event in recent Islamic history. However, Iran's policy of friendship with the regime of Hafi Asad and hostility to the Islamic movement of Syria constitutes a serious obstacle to the Islamic Republic's efforts to deepen and extend its support among the Muslims of the world and aids those who seek to confine the impact of the revolution to Iran.
Close ties with the Nusairi-Ba'thist regime of Hafi Asad have been a consistent element in the Islamic Republic's foreign policy since its inception; in this respect, there is nothing to differentiate from each other such foreign ministers as Ibrahim Yazdi, Sadiq Qu bzadah, and 'Ali Akbar Vilayati. In fact, as the political structure of the Islamic Republic has grown more cohesive, the policy of generous friendship with Hafi Asad has become firmer and more emphatic, to the point that an effective alliance with his regime now appears to be the mainstay of Iranian policy in the Arab world.
It is enough to review some of the developments that have taken place during the past year. On October 25, 1981, an Iranian delegation headed by Husain Shaikh al-Islam, political undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, set out for Syria and Lebanon on a journey designed to arouse opposition to the Fahd Plan and reaffirm links between Tehran and Damascus. 1 On December 4, Prime Minister Musavi said of the explosion in the Azbakiya quarter of Damascus (which destroyed three centers of Hafi Asad's state terror) that it was the work of pro-Israeli or "rightist" elements, thereby echoing the Asad regime's propaganda. 2 Then, at the end of December, came another official visit to Damascus, in the course of which Foreign Minister Vilayati handed Hafi Asad an invitation to visit Iran. Commenting on the proposed visit-which fortunately has still not taken place-Prime Minister Musavi said that it would enable Hafi Asad to "become acquainted with the realities of our Islamic Revolution." 3 One week later, the organ of the Islamic Republican party proudly announced that Syria had declared "official support" for the Islamic Revolution of Iran and had one of its reporters interview the Syrian ambassador in Tehran, asking his views on the best ways to promote Islamic solidarity and unity. 4
After the pitiless massacre in Hamah in February 1982, it was widely hoped that Iranian policy toward Syria would finally change, or at least be modified. However, there was virtually no coverage of the events in the Iranian press, and President Hujjat al-Islam Khamna'i saw no reason to modify the customary tone of friendship in a message he sent to Hafi Asad on February 25, wishing him "success in serving the sacred ideals of the people of Syria." 5 Questioned