Iranian hypocrisy: Solidarity with Rohingya, support for Assad

The idiom “pot calling the kettle black” was perfectly illustrated by Iran when the country’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke against the ongoing crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and urged the international community and the United Nations, in particular, to take swift action to end the crisis.

Despite the horrific and detestable treatment meted out to Rohingya Muslims by the Buddhist community in Myanmar, it was laughable to listen to Iran’s hypocritical self-righteousness in response.

While the foreign minister of Iran spoke against the oppression in Rohingya, he forgot to mention his country’s involvement in the genocide of Syrians. The Syrian Revolution against the Assad regime began in March 2011 and since then Iran has been at the forefront of supporting the Syrian dictator.

The country has continuously provided significant support to the Syrian regime, as it sees the survival of Bashar al-Assad as being crucial to its regional interests. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has always openly announced the country’s support for Assad regime, and there is documented proof that the Iranian security and intelligence services are continuously advising and assisting the Syrian military in order to preserve Assad’s hold on power. They have helped the regime by providing expeditionary training missions using Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) forces, Quds Force, intelligence services, and law enforcement forces.

Other than that, Iran has also been providing essential military supplies to Assad, both by air and through shipments. Iran is also responsible for supporting the pro-government ‘Shabiha’ militias, as these militias are highly dependent on Tehran.

Moreover, the Lebanese terrorist organisation Hezbollah, too, with the backing of Iran, has been involved in the Syrian conflict since 2012. The involvement of Hezbollah in the conflict perfectly aligns with Iranian strategic interests as Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah himself has acknowledged that many times.

Interestingly, Iran has also recruited soldiers from Pakistan, especially from the Parachinar region.

The presence of Iraqi Shi‘a militants also became overt in 2012, with the formation of the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade, a pro-government militia that is a conglomerate of Syrian and foreign Shi‘a fighters, including members of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraq-based Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hezbollah. Like other pro-Assad forces operating in Syria, these militant organisations also have the support of Iran in their crimes in Syria that include killing, raping and torturing Syrians.

Iran’s hypocrisy became all the more apparent when the country declared support for the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain when the Arab Spring began in 2011. But not for Syria, though. Over half a million people have been killed and millions displaced in Syria, yet Iran continues to openly support Assad.

Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar was quoted as saying: “People of Syria have the right to decide”; however, this too was another hypocritical statement, coming from a leader of a country that has continuously interfered to protect the brutal dictator that the Syrians wanted to get rid of.

The conflict in Syria has, so far, caused the deaths of more than half a million people, displaced 6.6 million within Syria and forced 4.8 million to seek refuge abroad. Syrian regime backed by Iran-allied forces, including Lebanese Hizbollah and other non-Syrian armed groups and militias, control much of western Syria and have made advances in other contested areas. They have been supported by Iran in killing and injuring thousands of civilians, according to human rights organisations.

Iran’s foreign minister, instead of trying to hide the country’s crimes by talking about the plight of the Rohingya people, should reconsider the country’s policies with regards to the Syrian conflict.

The Burmese government is — without a doubt — oppressing the Rohingyas in Myanmar. However, their crimes pale in comparison to those of Iran, Assad, and Russia.