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Open letter to Obama in Washington Post: Iranian intervention in Syria causing death and destruction, fueling sectarian strife


Iranian intervention in Syria causing death and destruction, fueling sectarian strife

The Hague, 14 December 2015 – The campaign group Naame Shaam (1) today published the second of two open letters to the US President Barak Obama in the Washington Post newspaper.

The letter focuses on the Iranian regime’s military intervention in Syria to save the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and continue to be able to ship arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon. But this intervention has been the main cause of mass death and destruction in the country, and is fueling a violent sectarian strife, driving many Sunni Muslims into the arms of Daesh (the so-called Islamic State) and other Islamist extremist  groups.

The headline reads: “Endless sorrow and despair in Syria, Mr. President. Endless.”

The open letter continues: “Death, destruction and displacement on unprecedented scale have become daily routine in Syria. The main culprits on the ground are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the militias they control – Hezbollah Lebanon and Iraqi and Afghani Shia militiamen – who have been carrying out all major military operations since mid-2013 on behalf of the Assad regime.”

“More recently, these militias have been supported by Russian war planes, which have mainly been bombing Syrian rebels backed by the US. Daesh – the so-called Islamic State – is rarely targeted. Today, regime-held areas in Syria are effectively occupied by Iran and its militias, which have been implementing a systematic scheme of sectarian cleansing in Damascus, Homs and other areas.”

“The lack of hope and serious support is driving many Sunni Muslims in Syria (and in Iraq) to join Daesh and Qaeda-linked groups because of Iran’s sectarian policies in the region. Sunni Muslims believe that the US has sold out Syria (and Iraq) to Iran for the sake of the nuclear deal signed with Iran in July 2015. Even worse, many in the Middle East believe that the US has stopped caring about values like freedom and human rights.”

“News of Western business delegations visiting Iran to sign new deals is further fueling the propaganda machine of Daesh. Empty promises by the US to seriously support moderate rebels are eroding what is left of Western credibility. Not acting decisively in Syria is making the situation worse by the day.”

“Now Russia has stepped in, capitalizing on the West’s failure to act. The result is more radicalization and extremism, more terror, more refugees and a disintegrating Middle East. This cannot be in the interest of the US and its allies.”

The letter then asks President Obama to:

  • “Treat the war in Syria as an international armed conflict that involves a foreign occupation by Iran and Russia on the one hand, and a liberation struggle by the Syrian people against this occupation on the other.
  • Support referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court to investigate all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.
  • Pressure Russia with more economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation so that it disengages from Iran and becomes part of the solution in Syria.
  • Fulfill your promises by arming and training enough moderate Syrian rebels, not only to fight Daesh and al-Qaeda-linked groups, but also Syrian and Iranian regime forces and militias.
  • Impose no-fly zones to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access throughout Syria, in line with the international ‘responsibility to protect’ norm.
  • Help Syrians set up a democratic state where the rule of law prevails, and where there is no place for al-Assad and his supporters.”

The letter ends with the message: “Mr. President, only the US can save Syria and the Middle East from disintegration.”

The open letter was accompanied by a photomontage of a Syrian bank note, which Naame Shaam had produced to visualize the Iranian occupation of Syria, carrying the counterfeit of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the de facto ruler of Syria.(2)

Notes for editors:

Naame Shaam’s most recent letter to President Obama was published in the Washington Post on 7 December 2015.

In May and June 2015, Naame Shaam published four open letters to President Obama in the Washington Post:

First letter, 5 May 2015

Second letter, 19 May 2015

Third letter, 23 June 2015

Fourth letter, 30 June 2015

1. Naame Shaam is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists that focuses on uncovering the role of the Iranian regime in Syria. Naame Shaam (نامه شام) means “Letter from Syria” in Persian. For more details about the group and its activities, see
Naame Shaam is supported by the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation,

Naame Shaam has published three in-depth reports on the Iranian regime’s role in Syria:

Financing Terror – The – Economic Impact of Iran’s Nuclear Programme and its Support to Paramilitary Groups across the Middle East” (7 December 2015)

Silent Sectarian Cleansing: Iranian Role in Mass Demolitions and Population Transfers in Syria” (May 2015)

Iran in Syria: From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force” (November 2014).

2. See here.

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