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"Iran and Syria"

February 24th, 2007 · 6 Comments · Lebanon

“including Iran and Syria…”

“…backed by Iran and Syria”

“hoping to split Iran from Syria…”

“…dialogue with Iran and Syria”

Again and again and again, we almost never hear the word ‘Syria’ in a news sentence without that other part of the rhyming couplet: Iran.

I am beginning to think this is a new country. A bit like Trinidad and Tobago, maybe?

But no, Syria is an independent state, with independent motivations and independent needs. It is not an ‘and’.

It is true that Syria and Iran share a lot of goals – mainly foreign policy (Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, the Golan Heights). But they also disagree in other areas – the role of religion and the state, for example (Syria is secular – in practise, not just name … Iran is theocratic – in practise, not just name).

So why isn’t Syria mentioned in a sentence on its own? Maybe it’s a good thing – the only substantive* thing the US seems to have on Syria is that it is Iran’s friend.

*The only substantive accusation? Doesn’t the US blame Syria for:

(a) letting militants cross into Iraq (not according to US military commanders in Iraq, who have said that Syria has done a good job of sealing the border – it is now a political complaint, not a military one)

(b) killing former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (the UN investigators have repeatedly said there is no conclusive evidence, despite initial accusations – furthermore, they have praised Syria’s “full co-operation” with the inquiry, and complained that 20 other countries…thought to include the US…have not co-operated)

(c) sending weapons to Hizbollah (the Lebanese Defence Minister said this month that not a single weapon has come across the border from Syria)

(d) supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Syria has repetedly offered peace talks with Israel – Israel has been tempted to dip its toes in the water, but Washington has ordered them to ignore Syria).

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Puppeteer // Feb 24, 2007 at 3.20 am

    Trinidad and Tobago, eh? I say rather like Turks and Caicos.

  • 2 norman // Feb 24, 2007 at 3.47 am

    Syria and Iran are more equal partners against the surrender camp of Saudi Arabia ,Egypt and Jordon Rice asked Israel not to talk to Syria and Israel seems to comply ,it looks to me that Israel is acting like a Banana republic and a puppet for the US.

  • 3 Wassim // Feb 24, 2007 at 3.58 am

    I have to disagree with the tone of your latest article Sasa. The actual issue is not one of Syria being diminished due to its constant association with Iran. As Norman said, Syria and Iran are more equal partners against the surrender camp of Saudi, Egypt and Jordan. The only reason I raise my objection is because I feel many are trying to foment a Sunni/Shia split in the region. I as a Sunni feel much more welcoming of a Syrian/Iranian involvement in rebuilding the Middle East and in resisting Zionism than in American Bantustans cowering at the feet of Israel. We can do so much more than be the exotic tourist resorts and brothels of rich Western or Saudi tourists.

  • 4 sasa // Feb 24, 2007 at 4.15 am

    Hi Wassim and Norman,

    I understand what you are both saying about the nature of the Syrian-Iranian relationship.

    My problem is not with the relationship, but with the Western perception that Syria is just another Iran. It is true that Syria and Iran are allies, but they are two seperate countries. And it is time the US started dealing with Syria, and not taking its anti-Iran anger out on Damascus.

    Fine, if America is angry with Syria, let’s hear the complaints. But it is not fair to blame Syria for Iran’s behaviour. Just like it is not fiar to blame Britain for the wreckless actions of Bush.

    I agree the Egypt, Jordan and Saudi dictators are playing a dangerous game, trying to stoke up anti-Shia feeling. SO far it has failed miserably, and the vast majority of Arab Sunnis haven’t turned their anger on Iran.

    It’s convenient isn’t it, that by trying to make us scared of the evil Shias, they can divert us away from our grievances against Mubarak/Abdullah/Abdullah, AND lessen our anger towards Bush. Two birds, one stone.

    Sasa.

  • 5 yaman // Feb 24, 2007 at 4.43 am

    The gears of the war machine are turning. “Syria and Iran” because they are the only opposition to the United States left in the Middle East. And when the time comes for America, it will go after “Syria and Iran.”

  • 6 norman // Feb 24, 2007 at 5.05 am

    Sasa, The US is against Syria not because of Iran but because of Syria’s stand in the midleast as the only Arab country standing in the way of final solution that they have for the Palestinians,without Syria the Plaestinians would have surrendered and axcepted Israel’s solution to their cause ,Iran is supporting Syria in it’s stand more than the other way around actualy if Iran was supportive of Israel like the time of the Shah the US would have not had trouble with them having even nuclear weapons to keep the Arabs in line.

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