Why Iran Is Trying to Save the Syrian Regime

(U.S. News) Alireza Nader - Iran is the Syrian regime's biggest supporter. Tehran views Syria as a strategic gateway to the Arab world, a bulwark against American and Israeli power, and a crucial link to Lebanese Hizbullah. Iran will do its best to keep Bashar Assad in power. But Tehran is smart enough to realize the Syrian regime could be overthrown sooner or later. Hence, Iran has stepped up its support of Alawite and other minority militias to maintain a physical connection to Hizbullah if Assad is overthrown. The Alawites are often referred to as an offshoot of Shia Islam, but religion's importance as a bond between Iran and Syria should not be overstated. Their close ties are based on geopolitics rather than religion. Iran and its Revolutionary Guards have played a large role in fighting insurgents seeking to overthrow Assad. The fall of the Assad regime would degrade Iran's ability to sustain Hizbullah militarily, as most of the weapons that Tehran routes to Hizbullah are shipped through Syria. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei believes the Syrian regime to be a crucial part of the "axis of resistance" against Israel and a frontline in Iran's struggle with the U.S. The writer is a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

2013-04-26 00:00:00

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