Iran: Arab Countries Sending Mercenaries to Syria

Iran's ambassador to France claimed Arab countries are interfering in Syria with US and Israeli help

by John Glaser, March 08, 2012

An Iranian official has accused Arab countries of sending mercenaries to Syria to provoke further unrest and foil any chance of a negotiated settlement to end the brutal crackdown led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ali Ahani, Iran’s ambassador to France told Reuters on Thursday that Arab countries have sent weapons and fighters to Syria with help and financing from the U.S. and Israel.

“We have information about money, weapons and mercenaries that are being sent there to disrupt things,” the former deputy foreign minister said, adding, “There is information that certain Arab countries have sent them (mercenaries)and been financed by the United States and even Israel.” He would not specify which Arab countries were involved.

Iran is a close ally of Syrian government, but has lightly criticized Assad’s violent handling of the uprising. “The narrow relationship we have with Syria is clear and well diversified, but that doesn’t mean that all the decisions of the Syrian government are rubber-stamped or not by Iran,” Ahani said.

“We can’t impose a solution from overseas to resolve the internal problems of Syria,” he said. “The opposition and government must be encouraged to try and resolve themselves the problem. There are demands of the Syrian people that have to be respected and that’s what we said to the Syrian government.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been the most vocal advocates of taking action to topple the Assad regime, even publicly calling for arming the opposition fighters. Kuwait has joined those calls. But Ahani would not specific which Arab states he was referring to.

The Obama administration has retreated from its initial refusal to stay out of the conflict in Syria by agreeing this week to provide direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition. Many in Washington are calling for all out war and regime change in Syria, although no evidence of substantial military intervention by the Obama administration has surfaced.

According to confidential emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor that were released by WikiLeaks, Western forces have been inside Syria for months performing covert reconnaissance work. No officials have commented on the information, but more and more allegations of current or planned military intervention have come up in recent weeks, leading to increased suspicion of Washington’s official line.

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