We are always debating Iran’s role in the modern Near and Middle East.  Iran belongs to both regions despite the confusion in the way these imperialist/colonialist terms are used.  In this article, Near East refers to those countries from Egypt eastward to Iran.  Middle East will refer to those countries stretching from Iran eastward to Pakistan.  India should have its own category because of its size and status – it’s the Subcontinent.  Whatever the case, Iran, in our book,  belongs to both the Near and Middle East.  Greece is similarly situated with identities that can span Europe and the Asian Eastern Mediterranean.  It’s not surprising that Greece and Iran are ancient nemeses given their central roles in the evolution of culture.

Today’s Iran is a theocracy; an ideology repellent to the staff of SyrPer.  But it’s only repellent because we would not want it for Syria.  The Iranian people are free to adopt what is an irrational method of self-rule.  If Shi’i Iranians have a deeply felt belief in the ideological solidity of the institution known as “Velayateh Faghih” (Arabic: Wilayat ul-Faqih), then so be it.  Syria and Iran may not make very good partners for a federation, but that doesn’t mean they cannot ally over issues of common interest to both, such as the military power of Hizbollah or the need to confront Zionism or….the need to check the arrogance of foreign powers.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei looks like your avuncular corner druggist with a lollipop waiting for every kid.  Unfortunately, like many of the personalities on the world stage, it’s just an appearance hiding a steely constitution capable of making decisions of destiny.   

So, what makes Syria so special?  The first is a border with largely Shi’i Lebanon.  This has been well-covered in numerous articles.  Lebanon’s population today is about 55% Shi’i.  With Hizbollah holding all the military cards at the present time, Iran’s power in Lebanon cannot be challenged. 

The second reason is the make-up of Syria’s own population.  Alawis and Ismailis are about 13% of Syria’s population.  Ismailis are “sevener” Shi’a, i.e. they believe in seven Imams, not the twelve of the mainstream Shi’ites.  And Alawis, represent a sect derived from Shi’ism, but which diverted away from traditional Islam through a miraculous kind of fusion.  Interestingly, Alawis have no known religious fanatics – only natural nuts like Sleiman Al-Murshid – but we’ll leave that to another discussion.  No matter what the case, Iranians are convinced that Alawis and Ismailis are reliable allies in any conflict with the majority Sunni population – especially the evil Wahhabis.

The third reason is access to the Palestinian theatre.  We’re not talking here about Historic Palestine or the Zionist Abomination.  We mean the phenomenology of Palestinian existence:  the refugee camps, the towns, committees, militias and the like.  The Iranian government believes strongly that the Arab nations surrounding Palestine (with the exception of Syria and Lebanon) are not sincere in their support for the cause of Palestine.  The liberation of Palestine is the eschatology of Muslim life on earth and must be accomplished before the arrival of the “Awaited One” (Al-Mahdi Al-Muntazar).  Jerusalem is one of three pearls set upon the Islamic tiara, and without it,  there is no balance in life. 

In order to liberate Palestine, Iran must have an access route into the Palestinian theatre.  Syria, with its borders and immense military infrastructure, provides exactly that.  The Syrian government’s downfall means the end to Iran’s ambition to participate in the cleansing of Palestine from the pollution of Zionism.  Iran will do anything and everything to prevent the fall of Dr. Assad’s administration.  The enemies of the Assad government had better calculate the following:  If Iran was not convinced that the Syrian army was capable of defeating the “opposition”,  the Iranian military would have already been positioned inside Syria.  But that appears to be unnecessary.  (Note: there are over 15,000 soldiers of the Quds Force inside Syria, near Zabadani,  but their posture is strictly in defense of Syria’s border with the Zionist enemy.)

The fifth reason is a foothold in the Arab World.  Iran dutifully extends its hands out to Arabs in the hope that a bridge can be extended between Shi’a and Sunni.  While some of us believe that such a reconciliation is doubtful because of the ingrained, endemic ignorance of Peninsular Arabs, the Iranians still believe in the concept of “Hamsaayeghaneh Na-Shenaass” or “Neighbors Who Don’t Know One Another”. 
Most importantly, Syria is a linchpin in the evolution of the “Fatimid Crescent” which arches over the Sunni backwater countries of Arabia, Jordan, the Emirates and the heel and toe of the Peninsula.  Even the King of Jordan made mention of this some months ago during a moment of clarity.  It’s true though.  The U.S. and its allies don’t cotton to this new bloc: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – but it’s the way of the world.  Iran will not allow Syria to fall and neither will Iraq.

The seventh reason is Syria’s access to the Mediterranean.  The Russians obviously appreciate this, but, so do the Iranians.  They have two warships now off the coast of Syria, ostensibly, to help patrol the coast and take part in any movement against Turkey. 

The eighth reason is Syria’s protection of the Sayyida Zeinab near Damascus shrine which has been targeted for destruction by Saudi Arabia’s clergy.  Never satisfied with a life of pure emptiness,  the Saudi Wahhabist men of the cloth have called upon fellow apostates to destroy this Shi’i shrine which brings Syria over 700,000 tourists every year.  Zeinab is the beloved granddaughter of Muhammad, the Messenger of God and is revered in Shi’i hagiology.

The ninth reason is missile development.  Syria has been quite resilient in the industry of missile design, construction and development. With original drawings and plans from North Korea, Syria today can field over 1,500 Scud Bs and Scud Ds on mobile launchers.  Syria has a massive arsenal of chemical and, possibly, biological, weapons whose technology and development has been shared with Iranian experts.

The tenth reason is the Syrian-Iranian Mutual Defense Pact to which General Vahidi referred in a speech last week warning the West about any intervention in Syria.  The pact cuts both ways.  If Turkey attacks Iran or allows its bases to be used to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, Syria must act to defend Iran with her remarkable array of missiles and artillery.  We have told our readers before about this: Syria has cruise missiles capable of vaporizing Turkey’s damns on the Euphrates. 

General Ahmed Vahidi, Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces,  warned of any military intervention in Syria.
The eleventh reason is Syria’s integrated anti-aircraft missile defense system which forces the “Israelis” to find longer routes to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.  Whereas three years ago, this would not have been a problem for the Zionists, it is now.  The Russian S-300 missile defense system is fully integrated, operational and on-line.  I wish it was ready when the damn Zionists hit Al-Kibar.

Well, I can’t think of anything else right now and it is approaching the cocktail hour.  See you tomorrow when I will have more news about the Aleppo campaign.