News / Middle East

Iran Walking Fine Line on Syria

Iran Walking Fine Line on Syriai
X
August 29, 2013 6:09 PM
Iran is wording responses to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons very carefully, although its rhetoric towards the international community remains tough. And, as the West mulls military action against Iran's ally, the new government in Tehran is caught between old allegiances and pressures to forge better ties with the West. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Iran is wording responses to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons very carefully, although its rhetoric towards the international community remains tough. And, as the West mulls military action against Iran's ally, the new government in Tehran is caught between old allegiances and pressures to forge better ties with the West.

The images of suffering after the alleged chemical weapon attack - called appalling and abhorrent by many in the West - at first drew a muted reaction from new Iranian President Hassan Rohani who, without blaming the Syrian government, issued a general condemnation of chemical weapons use.  

Former Radio Farda military correspondent Hussein Aryan says Rouhani had no choice.

"Not doing that, it would devaluate the credibility of a president who has taken over and seems or says that he is going to have a moderate approach in terms of international relations,” he said.

The escalating crisis in Syria may well test Iran's intent to improve ties with the West and the United States.

With the election of President Rohani, came a Western-friendly foreign minister, and Tehran has softened some of its rhetoric over its controversial nuclear program as it looks to get sanctions that have battered its economy lifted.

Still, as Western calls for military action against the Syrian government increase, Iran's defense of Syria has also strengthened.

Steven Heydemann at the United States Institute of Peace says that's because Tehran has much to lose.

“Iran for much of the period since the Syrian uprising began has been the most important ally of the Assad regime and has really thrown itself wholeheartedly into ensuring the regime’s survival,” he said.

Part of that is Iran's use of the militant group Hezbollah, whose leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to fight in Syria himself if the need arises.

Michael Rubin at American Enterprise Institute said, "Hezbollah, of course, is going to perhaps act as a proxy of Iran in all of this, though we've seen in recent weeks that Hezbollah has become much weaker than it has been in the past."

Iran's influence also extends to Iraq, where Shi'ite communities have sent militants to fight and die defending the Syrian regime.

In Syrian refugee camps anger against Iran is building. One refugee in a camp in Jordan says Iran and Hezbollah are also to blame for the chemical weapons attacks outside Damascus.

For now, Iran remains resolute. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is warning that American intervention in Syria would be a disaster.

As war in Syria rages, Iran's focus seems set on carefully preserving its sphere of influence.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid