Theodore's World: Syria and Iran Strengthen Ties

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June 26, 2006

Syria and Iran Strengthen Ties

SAYEDA ZEINAB, Syria, June 24 — For a long time, the top-selling poster in Hassan al-Sheikh's gift shop here showed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria seated beside the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

A few weeks ago a slightly different poster overtook it, this one with the Syrian president, the Hezbollah leader and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr. Sheikh's shop is on a bustling street in Sayeda Zeinab beside the entrance to a Shiite shrine that shares a name with the town, and both have been packed with Iranian pilgrims, many more than in years past.

Those changes illustrate what may well be a worrying phenomenon for Washington as it seeks to contain Iran and isolate Syria: the two governments, and their people, are tightening relations on several fronts as power in the region shifts away from the once dominant Sunni to Shiites, led by Iran.

This is, in part, the result of the American installation of a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-led government. But it is also spurred by the growing belief in Arab capitals that the Bush administration may soon negotiate a deal with Tehran over Iraq and nuclear weapons.

Arab governments once hostile to Iran have begun to soften their public posture after decades of animosity toward Tehran. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt met Iran's national security chief, Ali Larijani, in Cairo recently, and Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, visited Tehran this month and declared the two nations to be good friends. In addition, Iranian officials recently sent messages of friendship to every Persian Gulf state.

Amid all that activity, Syria has managed to inflate its power in the region by playing a subtle double game and setting itself up as a possible go-between.

Syria and Iran began establishing closer ties decades ago, but the real strides have been recent.

Syria has signed expanded military and economic agreements with Tehran covering everything from telecommunications projects to higher education. Syria will buy missiles from Iran. Iran will build cement and car plants in Syria.

At the same time, Arab nations that have been cool to Syria are now reaching out to it. Syria received the king of Bahrain this month, he met Thursday with Mr. Mubarak, and this week President Assad held a telephone conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan. Relations between Amman and Damascus became strained when Jordanian officials accused Syria of allowing Hamas to smuggle weapons across Syrian territory and into Jordan — charges Syria has denied.

"Iran injected Syria with a lot of confidence: stand up, show defiance," said Sami Moubayed, a political analyst and writer in Damascus. "Iran is giving them advice. This is certain."

The rest of the article HERE

Wild Thing's comment......

A Muslim by any other name is still a Muslim. Syria is a terrorist-supporting nation and remember when their Syrian paper accused Israel of having spread the bird flu to kill Arabs.

Posted by Wild Thing at June 26, 2006 01:55 AM


This is bad. The moslem nations are coming to terms with each other. First you get peaceful talks, then alignments, and finally treaties and other contracts. Looks like Iran is shooting for a mid-east NATO for the moslem world. That way, if one is attacked the others will step in to help. Need to stop this before it goes past the first step and stop it now.

Posted by: raz0r at June 26, 2006 08:44 AM

razOr I agree, what is happening is very dangerous.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 26, 2006 09:02 AM

I just wonder, based on history, how long any moslem countries can get along with each other. Hopefully, again based on history, not as long as the attention span of my cat.

Posted by: TomR at June 26, 2006 08:10 PM

Tom, hahaha I think that is a great point. They don't really like anyone, nor trust anyone. They are all liars so they can't even trust or believe each other.

Posted by: Wild Thing at June 27, 2006 03:09 AM