US President Obama may have pulled back from immediate military action against Syria, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is waging its own campaign, both on the propaganda and political fronts.
The Guards are seeking approval for “asymmetric warfare”, in the event of any American airstrikes.
While the Guards are careful not to say that they will respond with direct attacks against American interests — e.g. through troops in Syria, anti-aircraft support to the Assad regime, or blockage of the Straits of Horumz — its leaders are signalling that the Islamic Republic would respond via allied groups by carrying out unspecified attacks against American interests in the Middle East
Revolutionary Guards commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari (pictured) threatened on Saturday: “The US imagination about limited military intervention in Syria is merely an illusion, as reactions will be coming from beyond Syria’s borders.”
Jafari’s warning extended to any countries who joined Washington in the attacks, saying they would face “immediate crises in their national security”.
Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of the Basij militia, also spoke of “grave consequences” and hinted that Iran’s indirect response would come via attacks in Israel or against Israeli interests: “[An] attack on Syria will further pave the way for the liberation of Palestine.”
Fars News, close to the Revolutionary Guards, carries an interview with the head of the Palestinian Fatah group’s “Information Dissemination Center” in Damascus, who threatens to “use all [the group’s] capabilities to defend the Muslim country against a foreign aggression”.
Notably, the story is from Fars’ Damascus bureau, opened last November to complement the Assad regime’s propaganda coverage, often mirroring headlines run in Syrian State news agency SANA.
Fars — through its interviewee — frames the possible American strike on Syria as part of US imperialist aggression against the Arab world. It threatens that, should a strike take place, “Islamic resistance groups” will respond asymmetrically.
The Fatah official is quoted as saying: “Any aggression against any country or resistance partners is regarded aggression against all noble Arabs and under such conditions, it will be our duty to confront the US, the Israeli occupiers and their allies in a single front.”
Fars also quotes comments by the Information Dissemination Director of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) that the group is ready, with Damascus, “to confront and respond to any potential US attack on the Muslim country”:
“The Islamic resistance and Syria have prepared themselves for the most dangerous options…If needed these two Islamic resistance movements [the PFLP and Hezbollah] are fully ready to carry out the necessary missions.”
According to Fars, the PFLP and Hezbollah would respond to strikes against the Assad regime “by targeting the interests of invading states”. The PFLP representative says, “[A] military aggression on Syria will actually mean targeting the entire axis of resistance and will not merely be restricted just to that country”.