How Syria and Iran Are Linked

How Syria and Iran Are Linked

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Sarin gas and nuclear weapons may have a linkage having nothing to do with the specific dangers they represent to citizens. It may well be that the U.S. –implicitly Israel as well–is being watched by Iran as to how it will respond to the consensus that is generally developing that Syria is using chemical weapons against its own people. After France and Britain announced last week that they believed that President Assad had used such material against Syrian rebel soldiers, Israeli sources confirmed yesterday that they too had reached the same conclusion.  Up to this point, the Obama Administration has still not given a definitive comment of its own analysis.

The questions which emerge from Washington’s reluctance to affirm what is widely asserted concerning Assad raising the stakes in Syria, involves not only whether Syria is prepared to continue their use; but also what happened to Washington’s “red line” message that it had previously delivered concerning any use of chemical weapons by Syria. Beyond the obvious quandary in which it leaves the Syrians as to what is or is not behind the U.S. “red line” threat, it also raises very important question about “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program. This in turns challenges Israeli confidence in the U.S. being on the same page as Israel as to how far it is willing to permit the Iranian nuclear program to develop. In other words, what would be the U.S. response if Iran hits their previously agreed upon “red line”.

While one can understand U.S. hesitation not to act quickly in Syria– despite the continuing humanitarian bloodbath and the fear that military supplies could fall into radical terrorist groups– it would seem that given the implications to Iran concerning American waffling, the U.S. ought to intensify non-lethal assistance to the rebels. As to the implications for Israel vis-à-vis Iran, it probably elevates the likelihood that Israel may well have to go it alone against Iran. Perhaps, if the Syrian situation implodes soon, Iran will be so drawn in to protect its Syrian, Hezbollah, and radical Shiite allies, that the U.S. and the West, of necessity, will be sucked into the fray; so much for red lines determining actions.

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