Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani this week pledged support for the embattled regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. The Iranian proxies were celebrated by the Iranian official, who many had hoped would emerge as a moderate and a reformer, because of their willingness to wage war against Israel:
The official IRNA news agency on Tuesday cited Hasan Rouhani as saying close Iranian-Syrian ties will be able to confront “enemies in the region, especially the Zionist regime,” or Israel. Rouhani says Syria will “overcome its current crisis.”
For their parts Assad and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had celebrated Rouhani’s election victory weeks ago after the revolutionary cleric had won among a field of regime loyalists stacked in his favor. Both leaders had emphasized unity between Damascus, Tehran, and Hezbollah.
Iranian assistance, both in the form of direct lethal aid and via deployment of Hezbollah troops into Syria, has been critical in allowing the Assad regime to slowly roll back two years of rebel gains and reassert control over large parts of Syria. A note back from Rouhani to Nasrallah reaffirmed the Islamic state’s support for the “steadfast nation” of Lebanon and the Palestinians, a reference to the Gaza-based Palestinian terror group Hamas, which also receives support from Tehran.
Rouhani’s declarations are likely to reinforce increasing skepticism regarding early declarations that a Rouhani administration would chart a moderate foreign policy course.
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