U.S.-Iran regional power plays shift
Iran's 'axis of resistance' may seem ascendant, but new chances for peace could redefine game in US's favor.
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But noting that Iran serves as Syria's strategic depth, Mr. Dodge says he "would be surprised if [Syria] did get peeled away" from Iran.Skip to next paragraph
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Even if Syria were willing, "it's down to the Israeli government to be secure in itself, not just in its political sense, but in its existential sense, to do that deal," adds Dodge. "And I see no Israeli government [now] that can do that."
Three parallel tracks
Beyond that, Hezbollah's top priority is domestic politics, Syria's is the Golan, while Iran aspires to regional dominance.
"You have three parallel ... tracks, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. They are all mutually dependent and mutually supportive, but all have independent aspirations," says Dodge. "The axis is created through a unity of common interests. And if you were sitting in Washington … you would seek to work against the axis by seeking individual and not collective interests."
President Bashar al-Assad said Syria's ties with Iran would not weaken, telling British parliamentarians this week that "if Israel could question Syria's relations with Iran, then Syria could question Israel's ties with other countries, particularly the United States," a source familiar with the Damascus meeting told Reuters.
Still, Iran has moved fast to reinforce the resolve of the "axis of resistance." In Lebanon this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the Qatar agreement, which essentially granted Hezbollah veto power over decisions of the pro-West government, showed "greatly weakened" US influence.
In Tehran, Iran's defense deal with Syria on Wednesday pledged "mutual support regarding territorial independence," and called for withdrawal of "foreign and occupation forces, which are the source of insecurity and instability in the region."
And in Lebanon this week, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah marked the eight years since Israel's withdrawal, noting that negotiations "did not return to Lebanon a single inch of land" – only armed resistance brought "victory."
"There are two dreams; a Lebanese dream and an American dream," Mr. Nasrallah said. "The Lebanese dream speaks about a calm and peaceful summer and the American dream speaks about a hot summer," he added. "Come and let us realize our dreams, and not the dreams of our enemies."