If Tony Blair's new Middle East policy relies on splitting the alliance between Syria and Iran, he is making a big mistake.
By Dilip Hiro
"In his speech on November 13 devoted mainly to the Middle East, British prime minister Tony Blair said that Syria did not have the same interests as Iran, thereby implying that it could be prised away from Tehran.
This idea is not new. During the recent war between Israel and Hizbollah, several commentators in the American press dwelt on the subject, pointing out, inter alia, that Germany had made overtures to the Syrian government with the intention of weaning it away from Iran. To back their argument, they observed that Syria was ruled by the Ba'ath socialist party, which is wedded to Arab nationalism and secularism - putting it at variance with the theocratic system in the Persian-majority Iran. Historically, they added, there has been an animus between Persians and Arabs.
But more seriously, western analysts visualising a rift between Syria and Iran fail to grasp the multi-layered, strategic alliance that Damascus and Tehran have forged since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran."