US Administration not serious about stopping Syria bloodshed
The Hague, 20 May 2016 – The campaign group Naame Shaam (1) today said that it will stop all its activities after two years of exposing and campaigning against the Iranian regime’s role in Syria.
Since its launch in February 2014, the group has helped change the narrative around what the Iranian regime and its militias are doing in Syria, with many Syrian opposition groups and Western decision makers adopting the campaign’s narrative and demands.
However, the group says it has not managed to convince Western powers, particularly the Obama administration in the US, to act decisively to end the bloodshed in Syria and stop the disintegration of the Middle East.
In addition to key decision makers, MPs and think-tanks in the US and Europe, Naame Shaam has handed its in-depth reports about Iran’s role in Syria (2) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, providing evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Syria by regime forces, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the militias they control. The group urged the ICC Prosecutor, based on these reports and other available relevant information, to initiate an investigation into these crimes on her own initiative (proprio motu), according to the Rome Statute.
However, the ICC has not been able to start such an investigation, mainly because the US administration is blocking this. High-ranking European sources have told Naame Shaam that US President Barack Obama does not want to upset the Iranian regime and risk the collapse of the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Fouad Hamdan, Naame Shaam’s Campaigns Director, said: “Naame Shaam has informed and influenced decision-makers in Washington DC and in key European capitals about the role of the Iranian regime and Hezbollah in Syria. This and the failure of US President Barack Obama to address this issue seriously is now common knowledge and in almost every analysis in the media and in publications by think-tanks.”
“Unfortunately, we did not manage to convince the US administration to seriously act to end the bloodshed in Syria, even though many within the US administration and European governments agree with our findings and recommendations. It looks like Obama will not change his policy during his last months in office – even if Syrian cities like Aleppo are bombed to ashes, and even if thousands more civilians are killed and hundreds of thousands are forced to flee the country.”
“Obama is still insisting on following his disastrous policy of ‘slowly bleeding Iran and Hezbollah in Syria’ at the expense of continued bloodshed in Syria and rising extremism and instability in the Middle East,” Hamdan added.
On the ground, President Obama is yet to fulfill his promises to arm and train enough moderate Syrian rebels, not only to fight Daesh (so-called Islamic State) and al-Qaeda-linked groups, but also Syrian and Iranian regime forces and militias. He also continues to brush away all demands to impose no-fly zones to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access throughout Syria, in line with the international ‘responsibility to protect’ norm.
Naame Shaam reiterates its call on the US and its allies to treat the war in Syria as an international armed conflict that involves a foreign occupation by Iran and Russia on the one hand, and a liberation struggle by the Syrian people against this foreign occupation on the other.
The US and its allies should also support referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.
At the same time, Russia should be pressured with more economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation so that it disengages from Iran and becomes part of the solution in Syria, rather than being part of the problem.
We believe that, whether we like it or not, only the US can prevent Syria and the Middle East from further disintegration and chaos. Only the US can lead a serious international coalition that can help Syrians build a democratic state where the rule of law prevails, and where there is no place for al-Assad and his supporters.
Meanwhile, Syria and the whole Middle East will have to wait until a new president moves into the White House in February 2017. Naame Shaam hopes the new US president will scrap Obama’s ‘slow bleeding’ policy towards Iran and Hezbollah in Syria and act more decisively and more sensibly.
Notes for editors:
1. Naame Shaam is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists that focuses on uncovering the role of the Iranian regime in Syria. Naame Shaam means “Letter from Syria” in Persian. For more details about the group and its activities, see www.naameshaam.org.
Naame Shaam is part of the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation, www.lawrules.org.
(2) In April 2016 Naame Shaam published the 2nd updated edition of its in-depth report “Iran in Syria: From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force”. The 200-page report documents and analyzes various aspects of the military, political and economic role played in the Syria war by the Iranian regime and the militias it controls since March 2011, following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution.
We come to the conclusion that the unprecedented level of military and economic support provided by Iran has not only prevented the Assad regime from collapse, but has also changed the nature of the relationship between Tehran and Damascus: from being historically mutually beneficial allies, the Iranian regime is now effectively an occupying force in the regime-held areas of Syria, and the Syrian regime is little more than a puppet in the hands of Sepah Pasdaran (Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) and its foreign operations arm, Sepah Qods.
The report also provides numerous examples and case studies of human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria by Iranian-controlled militias and forces.
We believe that there is sufficient evidence to try the Iranian regime’s military and political leadership for complicity in many of these crimes at various levels, ranging from inciting, endorsing and adopting specific terrorist acts to aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The only thing missing is the political will in the White House and in the European Union to do so.
In December 2015, Naame Shaam published a report entitled “Financing Terror – The Economic Impact of Iran’s Nuclear Programme and its Support to Paramilitary Groups across the Middle East”. It details Iran’s lavish expenditure on financing terrorist activities and groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Yemen, which has totaled up to US$ 80 billion since the 1980s.
And in May 2015, Naame Shaam published another report entitled “Silent Sectarian Cleansing: Iranian Role in Mass Demolitions and Population Transfers in Syria”. The report accuses the Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah Lebanon backers of systematic forced displacement of Syrian civilians and the destruction and appropriation of their property in certain parts of Syria, such as Damascus and Homs.