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Iran and Syria: An Alliance Shaped by Mutual Foes

Deborah Amos says on NPR:

Over the last quarter-century, Iran and Syria have sustained a strong partnership, which many experts see as an odd coupling.

Syria is a secular regime and, in the 1980s, its army gunned down thousands of Islamist revolutionaries and jailed many more. Iran, on the other hand, touts revolution under the banner of Islam, according to Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group.

“It’s unlikely at one level,” Malley says. “I mean, there’s one very secular and one very religious regime. One is Arab, one is Persian. One has negotiated with Israel, the other one has had no dealings with Israel. And, yet, they have found common interests and enemies, and that’s what’s made this relationship both intriguing and extremely solid.”

Common Enemies

Officials in Damascus offer a list of reasons for the partnership, but they say that what it boils down to are common enemies.

“We believe that the American agenda in the Middle East — it’s so dangerous for the people in the Middle East. Iran believes same. We believe that Israel is our enemy — this is exactly what Iran believes,” says Mohammed Habash, head of the Iranian Syrian Friendship Committee in Parliament.

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