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February 17, 2005

Iran and Syria unite against 'threats': News or old hat?

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

In the Australian today we read that the Iranian-Syrian connection is a pre-existing concord of unlikely friends. Like most relationships in the Middle East relations between politically, sociologically, and theologically diverse governments is an old story. As the article mentions, the regime in Tehran is theocratic, absolutist and strongly guided by the precepts of Shia Islam.

Further, the article also accurately describes the Damascus Government as being secular, quasi-socialist in ideology, and led by a small faction of Alawites, with a majority Sunni Muslim population. The two countries have co-operated closely for the past generation since the Iranian revolution, and their respective intelligence services are intensely active in Lebanon. But their collaboration in terrorism has been known for sometime and the next step to open military cooperation shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that hasn't been living in Disney World for the last few years.

In August 2004 The Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that Iran had delivered missiles to Hezbullah in Lebanon via Syria, and that Iran and Syria were cooperating closely in missile development and deployment. For example:

"Two cargo aircraft landed on the morning of Wednesday, August 4, 2004, at one of the Syrian military airfields in north Damascus. There to greet the planes were Iranian Ambassador to Syria Riza Baqiri and Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mas'ud Idris."

.... Iranian-Syrian missile cooperation is "the closest cooperation in the history of the two countries' strategic relations, since Iranian scientists working on developing the Shihab missiles in Tehran had gone to Syria at the beginning of the year [2004] to participate in the development of missile artillery based on the same source on which Iran relies - that is, North Korea."

And that was in August 2004. It's hard to say that such cooperation doesn't constitute military cooperation, so is today's news - news?

- the Australian

IRAN and Syria, the two Middle Eastern powers under strongest pressure from the US as suspected sponsors of terrorism, both made extraordinary public statements of unity yesterday, declaring that they would form a "common front to face threats"

Washington believes the regimes in Tehran and Damascus provide extensive support for terror groups inside Iraq, where insurgents are arrayed directly against US forces, and inside Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, where close US ally Israel is the target.

The joint announcement, which came after a meeting in Tehran between Iranian Vice-President Muhammed Reza Aref and Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari, coincides with a sharp increase in regional tensions following the assassination of key Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri by a suicide car-bomber on Monday.

Let's seal the deal on the issue of long-standing military cooperation and the matter of today's news being no news at all. You decide! From that same August 2004 article we have:

... It was also stated that in the event of such an Israeli attack, "Hezbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon overseeing the deployment and maintenance of thousands of missiles of various ranges would fire these missiles at cities in the Hebrew state, which could expand the aerial attacks on the nuclear, chemical, and biological installations and uranium-enrichment plants in Iran, such that the attack would also include Syria and Lebanon." In the same article, Al-Siyassa reported that a "Syrian military source told the Syrian opposition in London that an Iranian military delegation specializing in missiles had accompanied the two deliveries to Syria, in order to oversee the deployment of the missiles in the various regions in Lebanon."

Case made, set, match! Scary thoughts. It's an old hat.

Posted by Hyscience at February 17, 2005 2:12 PM



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