Published: february 25, 2010; Syria Welcomes Turkey to the Iran-Led, Anti-American Bloc.
by Barry Rubin,
In its editorial welcoming President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Syria, the Syrian government newspaper al-Ba’th makes an interesting point buried at the end. One should note, of course, that this and just about everything else coming out of Syria also makes ridiculous the U.S. policy of engaging the dictatorship there with some illusion of splitting it away from its patron Iran.
But there’s something else going on here of the greatest importance. The editorial speaks of people in the Middle East who are coming together in an alliance rejecting Westernization, artificial borders, America, Israel, and various conspiracies. What countries are in this new alliance?
“Syria, Iran and Turkey, with their great peoples and their lively peoples and their rejectionist (the Syrian term for radical and anti-Israel, anti-American) policies are moving toward brotherhood… Welcome, President Ahmadinejad, in Syria.”
The Syrian regime is thus publicly trumpeting an Iran-Syria-Turkey alliance. The Turkish government’s policy, in theory, is one of getting along with everyone. But while one should not exaggerate how far this has gone—and, of course, this is a Syrian, not a Turkish statement—the fact is that Ankara is now politically as well as geographically much closer to Damascus and Tehran than to Washington DC.
Incidentally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad laughed at the United States openly. “We met today [together with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah] to sign an agreement to distance relations between Syria and Iran,” he joked laughing at his joint press conference with Ahmadinejad. And to its credit the Washington Post picked up the story (“Iran, Syria mock U.S. policy; Ahmadinejad speaks of Israel’s annihilation“); by Howard Schneider; february 26, Washington:
…The presidents of Iran and Syria on Thursday ridiculed U.S. policy in the region and pledged to create a Middle East “without Zionists,” combining a slap at recent U.S. overtures and a threat to Israel with an endorsement of one of the region’s defining alliances.
The Obama administration is trying to build an international coalition behind economic sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, which the United States and others fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. The United States also recently announced that it will send an ambassador to Damascus after a five-year absence, part of an effort to weaken Syria’s relations with Iran and discourage the country’s support for militant groups (Hezbollah, Hamas) antagonistic to Israel.
…the message delivered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a joint news conference was sharp and spoke to a shared sense that Iran is gaining influence in the region despite U.S. efforts….
…Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier, spoke of Israel’s eventual “demise and annihilation” and said the countries of the region could create a future “without Zionists and without colonialists.”