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Iran Is Losing the Arab Spring

Plus a fascinating look inside Syria

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Outside the shattered courthouse of a Damascus suburb.(Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Today in Tehran, Supreme Leader Khamanei cautioned Arab Spring protesters not to permit Israel or the West to “confiscate” their movement. This is, in a word, rich.

For if there is a single outside country clearly on the wrong side of the Arab Spring—specifically in Syria, where the Spring has taken its most violent and urgent turn—it is Iran. An important Wall Street Journal article today reports that Iran’s popularity in the Arab world has plummeted radically, largely due to its continued backing of the Assad regime, which it relies on as an ally to project power into the Levant as well as to Hezbollah and Hamas. “Increasingly, ordinary Arabs and Iranians are asking, on blogs and in conversations and interviews, what kind of resistance group would turn a blind eye to the killing of innocent fellow Muslims,” the Journal reports, referring here to Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite group. This was predictable: the regional hegemon, Saudi Arabia—which, unlike Iran, is Arab and Sunni—has seen the Syrian uprising as a chance to harness the aspirations of ordinary Arabs throughout the region to weaken Iran’s power. Strong, U.S.-backed Saudi influence as a counterweight to the Iranian-sponsored axis is also, of course, what Israel would like to see.

Meanwhile, your afternoon reading is Anthony Shadid’s tremendous New York Times Magazine article on the youthful protesters of Syria. He is one of the few Western journalists who has been in the country since the uprisings heated up, and his reporting is essential. “Abdullah represents what the government insists it is fighting,” Shadid reports of a young man.

He is a Salafist, an adherent to a puritanical Islam, though he disavows the term. To him, Salafists bear arms, and he understands that the moment he and others fire a bullet in Homs or anywhere else, the regime will have the justification it covets to crush them with even more force. But there was no question of his devotion to a state that adheres to Islam as its foundation, and he dismissed the comparatively liberal rhetoric of some Islamic activists, like the Muslim Brotherhood. “They want to satisfy the West, and they don’t want to satisfy Muslims,” he told me the next morning. “They say, ‘We’re a modern Islam.’ But there’s no such thing as modern Islam. There’s Islam, and there’s secularism.”

Iran’s Leader Warns Against West and Allies Making Gains in Arab Spring [AP/WP]
Iran Feels Heat Over Support for Damascus [WSJ]
Syria’s Sons of No One [NYT Magazine]
Earlier: Saudi Arabia Is Coming for Assad

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Ephraim says:


We apparently have a choice in Syria between the current Iranina-backed secular whack-jobs or the Saudi-supported Salafist whack-jobs waiting to take over. A lose-lose scenario if I ever saw one. Why would anyone want either of those groups running the show? So much for the “Arab Spring”. Anyone who thought this was going to turn out any differently, and that somehow people who have no traditions of secularism or representative government were all budding democrats because they konow how to use Facebook (i.e, almost everyone in the Western media), needs to have their heads examined

It is really a tossup as to whether Iran or Saudi Arabia is the most loathsome, racist, retrograde, and evil country on the face of the planet. These two places are the vectors for the plague of Islamism that is spreading almost unchecked everywhere.

All we can hope for is that both places annihilate each other in the always-promised-but-somehow-never-quite-occurring intra-Muslim civil war that we always hear is just around the corner. The world would be a much better place if these two hotbeds of Islamist terror and sedition could just do away with one another.

Shalom Freedman says:

I do not know what is so impressive about the fact that a radical fundamental Islamic ‘Salafist’ deplores the Assad regime. I do not believe such ‘heroes’ are what Israel, the West, the world needs. In fact they bring to mind the kind of danger we have already seen materializing somewhat in regard to Egypt. i.e. The ‘rebels’ prove even more hostile to Israel than even the former autocratic regime.

I think that the results of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt; military still in charge, oppression of Copts,mass arrests, torture by the “new regime” etc…show how absolutely clueless the Western press is when it comes to the Arab world.

So the best situation is that Assad and the “protesters” continue to beat each other up, but never decisively, so that overall Syrian power is weakened and neither the govt or the “protesters” can influence external affairs. Isn’t that was is happening? And they said Obama wasn’t smart.


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