Middle East Notes and Comment: Iran After Asad
September 13, 2012
Iran is already contemplating a future without Bashar al-Asad. It is not as much good news for the United States as many would hope.
Few can question that Bashar al-Asad’s regime is useful to Iran. Through a close Iranian-Syrian partnership, the Iranians gain a powerful conduit to Lebanon’s Shia community and access to two states that border Israel. Iran’s Syria ties also help build Iran’s broader Middle Eastern bona fides, giving it a front row seat to Arab regional issues. In addition, close ties to a state that is at the heart of the Arab world helps undermine some of the anti-Shia and anti Persian hostility from Iran’s Gulf Cooperation Council neighbors that would prefer the region see Iran as a meddling outsider.
And yet, it would be a mistake to conclude that the survival of Asad’s regime is vital to Iran. Asad’s fall will neither herald the beginning of the fall of the Islamic Republic nor the end of Tehran’s regional influence. Instead, Iran will compensate for its losses, and it is likely to do so in ways that neighbors find just as objectionable as its current support of Asad.