President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after again warning Iran's allies this week that Israel is poised to attack them, finds them less inclined to act as Tehran's surrogates in a potential conflict and more insistent on equality as partners.
Thursday, Feb. 25, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drops in on President Bashar Assad in Damascus for what their spokesmen have called coordination talks attesting to the strong relations between their two governments. According to debkafile’s Iranian and military sources, their conversation will focus on how to implement the secret military pact their two governments signed in December 2009, which commits each, as well as co-signatories Hizballah of Lebanon and the Palestinian Hamas, to come to the other’s aid if any is attacked by the United States or Israel.
debkafile’s sources in Damascus report that Ahmadinejad put in three phone calls to President Assad, Lebanese President General Michel Suleiman and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah to warn them that “Iran has reliable information (…) that the Zionist regime is after finding a way to compensate for the ridiculous defeats it suffered by the people of Gaza and Lebanon’s Hizballah.” He added: “Should the Zionist regime repeat its mistakes and initiate a military operation, then it must be resisted with full force to put an end to it once and for all.”
He promised Iran would come to Syria and Hizballah’s aid, should they come under Israeli attack, but left them with the impression that Tehran placed the onus of bringing about Israel's downfall "once and for all" squarely on the shoulders of Syria and Hizballah. Iran would not necessarily fight alongside them.
Neither was satisfied.
Ahmadinejad is due to meet all three of Iran's allies in Damascus Thursday: Assad, Nasrallah and Hamas political secretary Khaled Meshaal. He will find them refusing to go to war against Israel without clear guarantees from Tehran that Iranian military forces will fight alongside them. They want Tehran to abide by their mutual defense pact in full, meaning that Iran will not only open a third front against Israel but also send troops over to fight shoulder to shoulder with Syrian soldiers and Hizballah militia units.
Ahmadinejad's talks in Damascus Thursday are causing concern in Washington and Jerusalem because they are designed to take Iran's secret military treaties a step closer to fruition.
A Western source told debkafile that the Iranian and Syrian presidents will undoubtedly get down to the practicalities of the four-way military alliance, thereby ratcheting up military tensions in the region and making
the potential of a looming Middle East war more tangible.