“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).