MESOP Iran Daily: Tehran — Syria’s Assad Should Stay for 5 More Years

April 27 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Iran’s regime has subtly adjusted its position on Syria’s crisis, saying that President Assad should have five more years in power but — for the first time — holding back from a permanent commitment to his future.

The Supreme Leader’s top aide, Ali Akbar Velayati, said on Tuesday, “We support the legitimate government of Syria. Bashar al Assad was elected as Syria’s president two years ago. The seven-year period of his presidency must be completely finished.”

Iran has previously declared that Assad’s future should not be part of political discussions, a position maintained by the President and his delegation at talks in Geneva since January. Velayati has said repeatedly since last autumn, amid trips to Damaascus, that Assad’s position is a “red line” which Iran will defend. At the same time, Iran has sharply escalated its military intervention on the ground, accompanying Russian airstrikes to prop up the Assad regime.

However, last week Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi gave a public signal that Tehran may be reconsidering its long-term commitment to President Assad personally, if not to his regime.

Alavi told Lebanon’s pro-Assad Al-Mayadeen TV that Iran had offered asylum to Assad’s family, allowing the President to concentrate on the fight against the Syrian rebellion. He said that Assad had rejected the offer since his family was “like any other in Damascus”.

Almost two weeks ago, the head of Iran’s elite Qods Force, General Qassem Soleimiani, went to Moscow for urgent meetings with Russian officials, amid advances by rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra near Syria’s largest city Aleppo. The details of the consultations were not disclosed. The Syrian regime staged Presidential elections in June 2014 to portray Assad’s legitimacy, with domestic political figures nominally standing against the President in the first multi-party ballot in Syrian history. Assad was declared the winner with 88.7% of the vote.Velayati said on Tuesday that he told the Deputy Foreign Minister of Switzerland that “Syria’s territorial integrity will be respected and that the people are the future”. He said there was agreement on the “fight against terrorists”.