News / Middle East

Iran Sees Syria as Priority Issue

Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 7, 2012.  (SANA)Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 7, 2012. (SANA)
x
Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 7, 2012.  (SANA)
Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, meets with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Aug. 7, 2012. (SANA)
Sean Maroney
WASHINGTON — Syria and Iran strengthened their relations on Tuesday after a top Iranian national security official visited Damascus to pledge Tehran's continued support against Syria's opposition.

Iran's national security council secretary, Saeed Jalili, visited with President Assad and praised Tehran's ally as part of an "Axis of Resistance" against foreign opponents.

Analysts point out that Shi'ite Iran has long struggled against Sunni Saudi Arabia as they vie for dominance in the region.  More recently, Tehran also has challenged the West, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes and not for military use.

Former Iranian President Abolhasan Bani Sadr explains why the Syrian crisis is crucial to Iran's interests.

He says many foreign powers are present in Syria, with the United States, Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on one side arming the opposition, and Iran, China and Russia on the other side helping Mr. Assad's government.

The former Iranian president says the stakes are high for Tehran because if the Shi'ite Syrian government falls, it not only would be a major blow to Iranian influence, but it also could mean the Tehran government is next.

But Abdulbaset Sieda, the president of Syria's opposition National Council, said this is not the case.

Sieda said the Syrian opposition does not bear any ill will toward Tehran, and that there is no plan to bring down the Iranian government, if the Assad government collapses in Syria.

But analysts say the Syrian rebels have not been friendly toward Iran.  The rebels are holding 48 Iranians they seized in Damascus on Saturday.  Tehran says they are religious pilgrims; the rebel Free Syrian Army describes them as Iranian Revolutionary Guards on a "reconnaissance mission."

David Schenker, director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Program on Arab Politics, says Tehran has had no choice but to make supporting the Syrian government a priority issue.

"They're isolated.  Their economy is just suffering.  And there is a very real prospect that a successful uprising in Syria may energize the kind of popular revolt in Iran that was so brutally repressed back in 2009," Schenker said.

But Schenker says he expects Iran to be pragmatic.

"The Iranians want to have continued relations with post-Assad Syria.  They prefer that it remain an Assad regime-controlled Syria.  But in the worst case scenario, Iran would look to reach out and maintain relations," Schenker said.

Schenker says these relations would be critical to Iran as it seeks to support and wield influence with one of its remaining major allies in the region - Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group, Hezbollah.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid