Assad lashes back Syrian land stolen from ayatollahs
Assad lashes back Syrian land stolen from ayatollahs
An innovative initiative has been launched to denounce Syrian crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court. For the first time, the focus is on the culpability of Iran and its proxies.
The lawyers said Tehran’s support for Assad came “at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians killed, injured and displaced”. The evidence will show how Iran-backed militias deliberately targeted non-combatants, forcing thousands to flee and contributing significantly to the more than 13 million Syrians who have been displaced. Meanwhile, observers have documented that Russian forces in 2022 systematically displaced citizens through indiscriminate airstrikes against residential areas and civilian infrastructure.
New research published by the Harmoon Center illustrates how Assad’s forces and Iran-aligned militias, with Russian backing, have embarked on industrial-scale forced displacement campaigns: “Tehran does not has no interest in the return of refugees” at any time in the future. In Hezbollah-dominated areas near the Lebanese borders and in eastern regions controlled by Iraqi militias, these paramilitaries blocked the return of Syrians.
Assad’s obstruction of the return of millions of Syrians includes laws that allow the regime to seize the properties and lands of those who have fled. Vast urban areas were handed over to the extended families of foreign militias and imported loyalist populations. By sending Sunni refugees back to Turkish-influenced areas in northern and eastern Syria, Erdogan is doing Assad’s work for him while engaging in his own demographic engineering at the expense of Kurdish populations.
Auctions are held to sell large tracts of land. The Syrian Association for the Dignity of Citizens reports how the so-called “Shia Endowment in Deir Al-Zour” confiscated agricultural land to “invest in tourism projects for Iranians and Iraqis”, with massive confiscations under the oversight of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. . Corrupt Iraqi militia factions struck land deals “under the guise of reconstruction and rehabilitation.” Landowners who fail to provide documents or pay unaffordable fees are summarily dispossessed.
Iran has been buying land and properties at knockdown prices, with large acquisitions in strategic areas of Damascus, such as around the airport. Hezbollah has laundered billions of dollars through real estate acquisitions, focusing on Damascus and the southern regions – a situation that Israel will sooner or later tackle militarily.
Hezbollah already controls large areas adjacent to Lebanon, some of which have become hubs for the manufacture of Captagon, an amphetamine-based drug. Hundreds of millions of tablets are exported, earning billions of dollars in revenue for Hezbollah and Assad. Hezbollah dominates southern Lebanon, southern Beirut and the Bekaa region, and also invests in real estate in poor areas of northern Lebanon, exploiting the dire economic situation to its advantage.
Iran is flexing its soft power muscles by converting confiscated Syrian properties into Shiite community centers, educational institutions, religious centers and shrines. Young unemployed men are forced to join Iranian-funded militias. Farsi language departments have been opened in higher education institutions. Heavily subsidized courses with a strong ideological component come with additional incentives such as trips to Iran, which are of course exploited for indoctrination purposes.
A new report has explained how Iran is buying huge swaths of land in the Middle East while its own people are suffering from poverty.
These initiatives illustrate the gross distortions of the Iranian state budget, which fails to provide the most fragile safety nets for its emaciated population while funneling billions through opaque foundations for investment in its satellite states. and associated paramilitary forces.
The indefinite presence of millions of Syrians is having an unsustainable impact on Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Lebanon’s vast population of Palestinian refugees was a major destabilizing factor in the outbreak of the civil war of the 1970s. Hassan Nasrallah plays the bogeyman of Daesh, as if all Sunnis were terrorists waiting; but a traumatized and destitute generation that has no schooling is the perfect recruiting ground for extremist groups. These states sit on ticking time bombs created by the perpetuation of the Syrian conflict and large-scale demographic engineering.
Through mass displacement, mass acquisition and mass murder, Tehran is making it inevitable that Israel will eventually act in Syria to neutralize this Iranian satellite state – while the world watches intently elsewhere.
Post-1979 Iran tenaciously pursued the ejection of the United States from the region, the eradication of Israel, and the establishment of proxies to invade Arab nations. A few years ago I wrote an article claiming that Iran had stolen more than 20 times the area of Arab land stolen by Israel; and was responsible for over 100 times the loss of Arab life. Syrian land grabbing and demographic engineering are a textbook case of Tehran reshaping the region according to this aggressive expansionist vision; turn Arab nations into failed states. Yet the biggest failed state in the region is Iran itself.
If the Americans do indeed manage to cobble together a nuclear deal with Iran, then Tehran will have billions of dollars in additional unfrozen funds to buy Syrian sovereignty on the cheap and further expand its paramilitary armies.
For the financially and morally bankrupt Assad regime, selling stolen Syrian land to Iran has immediate benefits. But what does Assad think he will stay in power on? He may believe he owes everything to Tehran, but he has become a puppet that the Russians and Iranians can dismiss at will.
Assad wishes to return to the Arab fold, but how is this supposed to happen when his own actions rob Syria of its Arab identity?
Arabs once believed it was impossible for Palestine to lose its essential Arab character, but now we are faced with the reality of Israel. If Syrian leaders, Syrians themselves and the Arab world do not seize this moment, Syria risks becoming just as lost as Palestine.
Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is the editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed many heads of state.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News