“International parties are working at increasing the crisis in Syria” through the use of the media, as well as “through training mercenaries” such as al-Qaeda, and “sending them to Syria for jihad,” Syrian ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui has said.
Russian diplomat Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva concurs, saying that “jihadist mercenaries” are among the opposition forces to the current Syrian regime, headed by Bashar al-Assad. “Those who in the view of some states are bringing democracy to the region are in actual fact carrying out mass murder,” Reuters reports Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva as saying.
In contrast to Russia, which continues to support the Syrian regime, both the US and Britain have backed the Syrian rebels. Foreign policy hawks and some conservative think tanks believe that by removing the Syrian regime, Iran will be robbed of a strategic ally, and that its influence in the region will be checked. President Obama has “facilitated Iranian operations in Syria,” said Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the American Center for Security Policy, recently “propping up the mullahs’ client, Basha Assad.”
Iran’s presence and political clout in the region has grown precipitously since the Allied invasion of Iraq, which brought — probably unintentionally — the majority Shi’ite bloc to power. Previously Shi’ites had been repressed under Saddam Hussein regime.
Although foreign policy hawks view Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon as a micro-axis of evil, the Syrian regime is officially secular nationalist. The Assad family is also Alawite, a mystical sect of Islam, that fundamentalists regard as heretical.
As there had been in Libya, there have been reports of al-Qaeda fighters being among the Syrian rebels. If the Assad regime is replaced, it is likely that it would be replaced by an Islamist party, as occurred in Libya.