Thursday, 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 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.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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