The Iranian drone that violated Israeli airspace last week was more than just an escalation—it’s a sign that peace in Syria is a ways away according to the United States and regional conflict may be here to stay. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, warned the powerful UN Security Council on Wednesday that escalations such as this not only push back on peace but they herald a future in which Iran builds a permanent base in Syria.
“The drone flight is a wake-up call for all of us. Iran and Hezbollah are making plans to stay in Syria,” said Haley in comments posted to the US Mission to the UN website.
“When we look out across the Middle East, we know one thing for certain. When Iran and Hezbollah move in, instability always follows… We can’t offer support for peace on the one hand, and ignore the fact that the chief sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and its terrorist militia are digging in.”
Israel responded by shooting down the drone and striking both Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. It was some of the most intense and public fighting in decades between Israel, Syria and Iran. Haley slammed the Iranian aggression and supported Israel’s right to self-defense.
“We are not going to get to peace when the situation on the ground continues to escalate, with dire risks for the security of the entire region,” said Haley in discussing the drone incursion. “…It was an egregious and unprompted escalation. Iran was once again doing what it does—risking conflict and testing the will of its neighbors and opponents to resist its aggression. Israel rightly took action to defend itself.”
Haley said the drone was launched by Iranian-backed militias. And that’s not all the Iranians are doing in Syria. She further said that atrocities committed by the Syrian regime involve Iran and their allies too.
“When we see the Assad regime starving civilians in eastern Ghouta or pummeling schools and hospitals in Idlib, we see advisers from Iran and Hezbollah helping direct those atrocities,” she said.
Haley slammed the Russian failure to reign in their ally in the Syrian regime and urged the Russians to “push the regime to commit to seeking a real peace in Syria.”
The alternative, according to Haley, is a vicious and dangerous situation in which the Syrian regime brutalizes its own people while Iran extends its reach.
“It’s hard to see how a peace process will work while the Assad regime continues to launch all-out attacks against the Syrian people, and Iran and Hezbollah are entrenching themselves inside the country,” said Haley. “Ultimately, we must recognize that the Assad regime does not want peace unless it’s peace on their terms—a peace in which every person in Syria who opposes the regime is murdered, tortured, starved, imprisoned, or forced to flee the country.”
The only chance for peace in Syria, according to Haley, is for the sides to support the UN Resolution on the Syrian conflict, the Geneva peace process and “most of all, push the Assad regime to do what it plainly does not want to do. If we rally around these goals, we will achieve real peace in Syria.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 14, 2018)