Cartoon 59: The People of Syria
On August 21, 2013, chemical weapons were deployed against civilians outside Syria’s capital city of Damascus. As the international community seeks confirmation that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack and debates the possibility of a punitive military strike, Iranian officials are reviewing their own unique stance in this situation.
Until now, Iran’s leadership has supported Assad in the ongoing internal conflict in Syria. But Iranians are no strangers to chemical weapons attacks: in the 1980s, then-president of Iraq Saddam Hussein deployed chemical weapons against the people of Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. He later deployed them in his own country as well. If Assad deployed the chemical weapons outside Damascus, he joins Hussein in an exclusive club of two: leaders who have used chemical weapons against their own people.
Earlier this week, the head of Iran’s Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani condemned Assad for the chemical attack against Syrian citizens. Today, Iranian Member of Parliament Ali Motahari reiterated the accusation against Assad with an important caveat: “Condemning chemical weapons bombings does not mean giving permission to the US to attack Syria.”