July 11, 2006


Syria's one true friend - Iran (Sami Moubayed, 12 July 2006, Asia Times)

DAMASCUS - Since former president Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970, the Syrian government has managed to rally the street behind its foreign policy. Time has proven the regime correct since all the steps it took in foreign affairs, which seemed questionable to many at the moment, turned out to be wise...
Today, Syria's foreign relations are based on a conviction that relations with the United States are no longer repairable so long as Bush is at the White House. Relations with France, the Syrians believe, are also strained so long as Jacques Chirac - an ally of the Harriri family in Lebanon - is in power in Paris. And so long as Chirac is around, Europe is not a priority on Syria's agenda. Mostly the Syrians have decided to ignore the West and head east. They want to create economic and political alliances with Malaysia, India, China and Russia, feeling that when the Western world sees that it has lost Syria, it would recalculate its relationship with Damascus. First on the list of the countries that Syria is reaching out to is Iran...
One question arises: if Syria does not ally itself with Iran, what country in the neighborhood is an alternative? The Syrians, at daggers end with the US since 2003, are surrounded by a pro-American regime in Jordan, an anti-Syrian regime in Lebanon, an American regime in Iraq, and Israel. With such a neighborhood, Syria naturally sides with the Iranians. Gone is the Arab nationalist regime in Egypt. Gone is the Soviet Union. With such an anti-Syrian neighborhood, Iran, it is believed, is the only true friend to the Syrians.

The truth is the implication of that last sentence. Iran and Syria are now very much alone. All their brilliant foreign policy has left them up against the wall with no way out.

Posted by Pepys at July 11, 2006 1:17 PM

Syria should have been done in summer '03. Doing so would have saved thousands of American lives and untold numbers of Iraqis.

Posted by: b at July 11, 2006 2:05 PM

B - and to that point there is probable no appetite to deal with Syria, North Korea, or Iran.

Posted by: AWW at July 11, 2006 3:12 PM

Syria has been deeply in bed with Iran ever since the fall of the Soviet Union left them without a patron. In recent years, so deeply in bed that Iran-directed terrorists could probably overthrow the Assad regime if he tried to separate himself from them.

Syria therefore has all Iran's allies -- China and North Korea -- plus opportunistic countries like Russia which will cooperate if there's something in it for them.

b - The real danger is the Iran-North Korea axis and regime-changing Syria would have left us with the same problems that we've had in Iraq -- an Iran-sponsored insurgency, now extending over two countries. On the other hand if Iran was done then the Syrian problem would probably go away on its own.

Posted by: pj at July 11, 2006 3:16 PM

Iran goes, Syria goes, Syria goes, Iraq calms down and Israel can finally get a grip on Palestine.

Posted by: Pepys at July 11, 2006 9:23 PM

pj: Syria would have been trivial. Just wheel left from Baghdad, and in a couple of days you're done. The Sunni insurgency has been primarily financed & armed from Syria, so you would have nothing like the problems we've seen the past 3 years.

Iran is a different beast altogether, and would have had to wait a bit, but they're day of reckoning can't be put off forever.

Posted by: b at July 12, 2006 4:59 PM