TEHRAN, Iran — The night of Aug. 31, when US President Barack Obama announced that he would consult Congress before any strike on Syria, was a night of jubilation in Tehran. “Nobody wants to go to war,” an Iranian official, who requested not to be identified, told me. He added, “This was one of the first achievements for President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, and it should be a lesson to the Americans that the conflict in Syria needs love, not war.” According to the official, Iran was ready for options, including the military one. He said, “We were ready for all options: A strike on Syria means a strike on Iran, and the allies of Syria had their plans ready for execution. Other options included closing the Strait of Hormuz. Will they bear closing the straight for 24 hours?”
For several days, Iran was busy with the developments in Syria, and officials had one subject to comment and react on. Zarif contacted more than 15 of his counterparts — many of them Europeans — and conveyed a clear message of the serious need to cooperate and coordinate on issues such as Syria, while other officials — mainly military officers — were threatening that the war might burn the whole region and a Syrian response would hit Israel. Similar comments were made by Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, who made it clear that the United States can start a war but will not be able to put an end to it.