Following up on Vera’s post from yesterday, I wanted to give a bit of context to the latest headlines on Syria.

Yesterday, Saeed Jalili (he’s the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and the guy the Western powers is supposedly negotiating with on Iran’s illegal nuclear programme) went to Damascus to hang out with President Assad

Iranian security chief Saeed Jalili (L) with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Sana news agency photo 7 Aug 2012)

(Photo credit: Associated Press, via BBC‘s story on the visit)

The New York Times has a fairly detailed account of the meeting. The main point is that Jalili said the following:

What is happening in Syria is not an internal Syrian issue but a conflict between the axis of the resistance and its enemies in the region and the world,” Mr. Jalili said in comments reported on Syrian state television. He added: “Iran will not tolerate, in any form, the breaking of the axis of the resistance, of which Syria is an intrinsic part.

Now, this is the clearest statement of Tehran’s support to Assad given to the media by people who have not defected. (Back in July 2012, a defected Syrian ambassador told the UN that “Iran is contributing to the problem” in Syria. )

In May, after the Houla massacre, Ismail Qa’ani (General in the Quds Force – the operational branch of the Revolutionary Guard) confirmed that Iran has been providing military aid to Assad’s regime in their bloody attacks on civilian Syrians.

Why? According to CIA director David Petraeus

Clearly, the loss of Syria as a logistics platform, a line of communication into Lebanon to support Hezbollah would be a substantial setback for Iran in its effort to use Hezbollah as a proxy and that’s indeed why the Revolutionary Guard is so engaged in trying to prop up Bashar al-Assad right now

This is looking really really grim.