Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof writes for The Daily Star Lebanon on the regional implications of the Iran deal, particularly with regard to Syria:
Mr. Obama realizes that Iran is the main external facilitator of mass murder in Syria. He understands that Tehran can make Assad stop the barrel bombs, shelve the chlorine gas and lift the starvation sieges. Yet he fears offending Iran over Syria. In October of last year he reportedly went so far as to assure Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in writing that American aircraft would not molest his client in Syria.
The president has long wanted a nuclear deal with Iran. He thinks it will, in time, change Iranian behavior. He may be right. But how many more Syrians will be slaughtered before Tehran mends its ways? Grounding Assad regime helicopters would save thousands of lives right now. Would this act of mercy impel Tehran to walk away from billions of dollars in sanctions relief?