Across the Bay

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Client at Work

Lee Smith pointed out in his recent excellent piece on Iran and the Gulf states how the Syrian regime is acting in its capacity as Iran's client to "mediate" between Iran and the Gulf states.

Lee pointed to Walid Muallem's visit to Kuwait. Now Farouq al-Sharaa is planning a visit to the UAE and then to Yemen, carrying "reassurances" about the "peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear program and to "remove all sources of anxiety" the Gulf states may have. This report may shed some light on the Iranian and Syrian efforts.

Confirming what I wrote that not only will the Syrian regime not abandon its status of Iran client but will rather continue to cement it (witness the number of Iranian vists to Syria in recent weeks, and in upcoming weeks), Syrian sources addeed, "[Syria's] relations [with Iran] are old and experienced and can be used in favor of Arab causes."

That last line is what Lee meant by "playing both sides of the street." It's what Hasan Nasrallah has been doing in Lebanon as well, trying to ease Sunni concerns (Hezbollah's main target audience) by pointing to Ahmadinejad's adoption and defense of the Palestinian cause. Read: this is not a Shiite menace as Jordan's Abdallah and Egypt's Mubarak have maintained. This in fact is like Hezbollah's Pan-Arabist Islamist brand.

Alas, no one seems to be paying much attention to that line (or, for that matter, to Nasrallah's attempts at reviving his image as the regional Shiite version of Nasser). Jordan's recent statements on Iran are indicative. This Turkish report on Iran's nuclear intentions is also interesting.