Syria has now been ceded to Iran

The much-delayed Geneva II conference on Syria, now scheduled for January 22, thus promises to be quite an interesting affair. So far, the regime has categorically ruled out Assad’s ouster as Western fantasy and the actual rebels on the ground – as opposed to their irrelevant spokespersons abroad – have said that whatever happens, they will not abide by a ceasefire during the talks. Meanwhile, Iran’s participation, we are now informed by the very administration that once ruled it out, will be contingent upon its acceptance of the 2012 Geneva Protocol, which would create a “transitional government” for Syria and which Washington putatively thinks will be headed by someone other than Bashar al-Assad. Iran has said no to the Protocol. I wonder what else it thinks it can get away with between now and January 22.

The mullahs’ nuclear program, we often forget, was always intended as a safeguard for their most valued foreign policy objective: the expansion of Khomeinism across the Middle East through the use of paramilitary proxies, terrorism, advanced weaponry, and sophisticated intelligence and counterintelligence operations. The idea behind this objective was to systematically weaken and undermine what had been, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a Pax Americana stitched together by a tenuous but surprisingly stable consortium of US allies, namely Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the other Gulf Arab Sunni-majority states. Without possessing so much as a single warhead, Iran has managed to achieve much of what it set out to do, as well as to negotiate itself a license to do even more in exchange for putting a few more weeks “on the clock” for its ability to build a warhead. This is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s also a great tragedy for Syria.