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Iranian Officials Trumpet Assad as Former U.S. Amb. to Syria Reveals He Could No Longer Defend Policy

The Washington Post on Tuesday conveyed boasts from top Iranian officials who were – per the outlet – “trumpeting [Bashar al-Assad’s] anticipated reelection as a defeat for the United States” and “celebrating not only the affirmation of Assad’s continued hold on power that the election represents but also Iran’s role in sustaining him”:

“Foreign powers should give up their illusions about fulfilling their personal desires and strategies through military methods in Syria,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told a Friends of Syria conference in Tehran over the weekend. The choice of name seemed intended as a deliberate jab at the U.S.-backed Friends of Syria alliance created to support the Syrian opposition.

Thousands of Syrians are lining up to vote in a presidential election, but voting is being held only in government-controlled areas, and more than two million Syrian refugees are not voting. (Associated Press)
“They should admit that there is no way to solve the crisis of Syria other than the willpower of the Syrian people, which will be shown at the ballot box,” Zarif told the gathering, reportedly attended by representatives of 30 countries friendly to Iran.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) had reported on reactions from U.S. officials, which had been broadly dismissive:

The United States on Tuesday denounced Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s attempt to shore up his authority by staging presidential elections in the middle of a brutal civil war.

“Today’s presidential election in Syria is a disgrace,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said. “Assad has no more credibility today than he did yesterday.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s recently retired ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, took to CNN to blast the administration’s policy, declaring that he resigned from his post because he was “no longer in a position where I felt I could defend American policy.” Ford flatly declared that “there’s really nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy,” and assessed that “had there been more military assistance and logistical assistance and even things like cash… the opposition would have probably been able to gain more ground a couple of years ago… [and] the regime would have been much weaker.”

He emphasized that “it is now widely known that the State Department thought we needed to give much more help to the armed opposition, and that was as long as two years ago,” and urged the administration to launch new efforts to help moderate rebel elements, who are battling both the Assad regime and Sunni jihadists.

Reading the interview, Al Monitor remarked that Ford is not the only Syria envoy to leave the post:

Ford is hardly the first Syria mediator to quit in frustration. UN/Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi resigned last month, as did his predecessor Kofi Annan before him. Former US envoy on Syria transition issues Frederic Hof, who quit in 2012, has also become an outspoken critic of US Syria policy.

[Photo: PressTV News Videos / YouTube]