June 8, 2009 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 517

Ahmadinejad and Assad: Iran and Syria Are Leading a New World Order; The Time of America and the West Is Over

June 8, 2009 | By A. Savyon, Y. Yehoshua, and N. Mozes*
Syria, Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 517


In early May 2009, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus. In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two declared that the relations between Iran and Syria were strategic and served as an example to the region and to the world at large. They added that Iran and Syria were leading a dramatic transformation in the region, as part of a new world order which would replace the old world order that the U.S. has led since the end of World War II.

The two presidents called to expel the foreign forces from the region, stressing that the Middle East would from now on be run by its own peoples under the leadership of Syria and Iran. They also emphasized the importance of strengthening Iraq and of the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from it, as well as the need for "quadrilateral cooperation" between the "regional powers," i.e. Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.

It seems that since this meeting, Damascus is explicitly adopting Iran's anti-American stance and pointedly aligning itself with Iran. In fact, the Syrians have even adopted Iran's rhetoric and Ahmadinejad's characteristic phrases - such as "new world order" or "opening new locks with old keys" - which were used in Syrian newspaper reports about Ahmadinejad's visit.

Following are excerpts from statements by the two presidents following the meeting, and from Syrian and Iranian press reports about it.

The U.S. and the West Now Need Iran and Syria

Following the meeting with Assad, Ahmadinejad said, "The circumstances in the region are rapidly changing [in accordance] with Syria's and Iran's goals, and those who have for years demanded that Syria and Iran stop insisting on their rights and on the rights of the peoples of the region [i.e. the U.S. and the West] are now explicitly declaring that they need the help of Iran and Syria... Those who wanted to force Iran and Syria to withdraw [from their positions] now need them in order to solve their problems. The same ones who described Iran and Syria as 'the Axis of Evil' [i.e. the U.S. under Bush] now want relations with both [countries]...

"We need to reach the point where the involvement of foreigners and of those who speak [the language of] violence is completely eliminated from our region, leaving it free and brimming with progress and friendship... The enemies of the region's nations, who in the past spoke with arrogance and referred to Iran and Syria with insulting epithets, are now in a position of weakness, facing a complete dead end and unable to solve even the smallest problem. They have no wise strategy for resolving the problems of Palestine, Afghanistan or any other region in the world." [1]

The Time of the West Is Over; A New World Order Is Emerging

Ahmadinejad added, "Alongside the resistance and steadfastness, we must also strive to create a new world order; otherwise new oppressive regimes will emerge." [2] He called the West's fundamental values "inhuman and belonging to past decades," adding: "They [i.e. the Westerners] are trying to open new doors with the keys to old locks, without noticing that, today, it is the humane and divine path that is the code to opening the locks of humanity. They are decades behind, and can be described, in two words, as politically retarded... The philosophy and order that emerged after World War II have come to the end of their road, and [the West] is unable to offer solutions for the world's problems, since its thinking is based on discrimination and on [undermining] security." [3]

Significantly, an editorial of the Syrian daily Teshreen made very similar statements, stating: "...All the regional and international forces [now] understand that the keys to the region [are in the hands of Iran and Syria], and that they are the ones standing at the [region's] diplomatic gates. [Nobody] can enter or bypass these gates unless Damascus and Tehran understand, agree, and are convinced that this serves [first of all] their own interests, and after that the interest of the others. [4]

Ahmadinejad also said after the meeting with Assad that current circumstances in the world, in many domains, were not favorable to the superpowers that use the language of force, particularly the U.S. He added: "The main goals and tendencies of the American statesmen have remained the same, but they are unable to do anything, because they have grown weak... The American statesmen are trapped in a dilemma: They wish to preserve the Zionist regime, but they need Iran and Syria... These two countries have stood fast in the face of those who use [the language of] violence, relying on humane values and on victory by the grace of God, and today the circumstances in the world and in the region are rapidly changing [in a direction that corresponds with] their outlook and goals. Those who, for many years, said that Iran and Syria must be pressured, and wanted to prevent [them] from defending the rights of the peoples in the region, now openly declare that they require the help of Tehran and Damascus in solving their problems. This is a great victory... [and] I believe that sympathy with the shared ideas [of Syria and Iran], and the steadfastness [of these countries], are the secret behind this victory. Today we are beginning on the path of triumph, and even greater victories lie ahead." [5]

The notion of a new world order was also stressed by former Lebanese MP Nasser Qandil, who is close to the Syrian regime. In a Teshreen article, he wrote that the situation in the region has changed since the American-Israeli strategic alliance failed in its efforts to crush the Syrian-Iranian strategic alliance. He stated: "This week's Syrian-Iranian summit, and the statements by presidents Assad and Ahmadinejad, underscore the strength of the Syrian and Iranian leaderships, and their profound awareness that a new [situation has emerged, heralding]... the establishment of a new regional order under their leadership..." The new situation, Qandil added, is evident in the alliances currently being considered by Turkey (i.e. its emerging alliances with Syria and Iran). [6]

Iran-Syria Relations - A Model for the Whole World

Following their meeting, Ahmadinejad and Assad called the relations between Iran and Syria "strategic," and declared that that "[these] relations and deepening cooperation, in various domains, will rapidly develop and prosper." [7] Ahmadinejad stated that the bilateral relations between Iran and Syria were limitless, adding: "We want to present the brotherly relations between [the two countries] as an example to the region and the world. We have complete mutual understanding regarding [the need] to maintain coordination between the nations of the region and their governments." [8] Assad said, in a similar vein, "The relations between Syria and Iran and strategic. The visit of President Ahmadinejad highlights the importance of these strategic relations and the need for ongoing consultation and coordination between [the two countries]." [9]

The Syrian daily Al-Watan argued that it was in the Arabs' interest to regard Iran as an ally, stating: "Syria and Sudan are the only countries that pursue a policy which sees Iran as an ally and as a force supporting the Arabs against Israel, its occupation and its aggression, and that is why [Israel's] Netanyahu government is focusing on [Syria, Sudan and Iran]. It is in the Arabs' interest to:

"1. Distance [themselves] from the Israeli policy of portraying Iran as the Arabs' enemy, and avoid being captivated by the policy that tries to drive a wedge between the Arabs and Iran - for this policy serves mainly the interests of Israel at the expense of the interests of the Arabs.

"2. Regard Iran as a friend of the Arabs and as a deterring and restraining force vis-à-vis Israel and its aggression. [Iran] has had a role, and continues to have a role, in changing the balance of power in favor of the Arab position. The new balance of power, [in turn,] had a role in convincing the American administration to change its policy towards the conflict in the region. The policy of relying on America, and providing it with all the [trump] cards, does not serve the Arabs' position or interests. [Their interest] is to strengthen themselves and reinforce the balance of power created by the victories of the resistance that was supported by Syria and Iran." [10]

Enhancing Iran and Syria's Cooperation with Iraq and Turkey

Ahmadinejad and Assad stressed that deepening the relations and the cooperation among the countries of the region was crucial and that "the quadrilateral cooperation between Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey would benefit the region's nations." [11]

Ahmadinejad added: "Some of the discussions [I held with Assad] concerned the establishment of tripartite cooperation between Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Bashar Al-Assad, [Iraqi Prime Minister] Nouri Al-Maliki, and I wish [to implement joint] projects in the areas of oil, gas and transportation... Iran and Syria are in favor of enhancing security and strengthening the legitimate Iraqi government. [We] believe that Iraqi unity, and the withdrawal of the foreign [forces], will benefit Iraq and the region as a whole." Ahmadinejad explained that the presence of foreign forces in Iraq undermined security, saying: "Nobody invited them, and the sooner they leave the better - [not only for us but] also for them. If they wish to serve [someone], they should serve their own people. There are 80 million poor in America, and tens of millions of poor in Europe." [12]

Assad said, "We are pleased with the recent developments in Iraq, especially with the recent local elections, which gave clear indications that the Iraqi people wants [its country] to be unified, and that Iraq will not move in the direction of disintegration and fighting among the people of the homeland, as some perhaps hope... [President Ahmadinejad] and I agreed that there is need to support the current Iraqi government in its efforts to bring about a reconciliation among all the Iraqi people and sectors, in order to facilitate the complete withdrawal of the [foreign] forces until the occupying troops leave, to the very last one..." [13]

The Syrian daily Al-Thawra stated, "...When [Assad and Ahmadinejad] declare that they are jointly turning towards Iraq... they are laying the foundations for an option of neighborliness, cooperation and mutual understanding. This [option will be the basis for] future plans for the [Middle] East, as a safe alternative to the [dangerous] plan that was forged far from this region and its peoples. This cooperation, and Syria and Iran's calm handling of [various] challenges, are a message to the world - and even more so to the region - that they are the ones that have the solutions - not the countries that are now collapsing as a result of their political and economic programs. The region also has other great countries [meaning Turkey]. Together we can form not an axis to attack others, but nexuses of cooperation, so as to solve our problems and take part in solving those of the region..." [14] The Syrian daily Al-Watan quoted Ahmadinejad as saying: "Today there is talk about tripartite cooperation between Iraq, Syria and Iran, and I can add that Turkey is [also] very close to joining this regional cooperation [effort]..." [15]

Similar statements were made by Assad during the May 15-17, 2009 visit to Syria by Turkish President Abdullah Gul. He said: "There is cooperation between Turkey and Iraq, and Turkey's relations with Iran are [also] starting to tighten. The relations between Syria and Iraq are good and getting better, and the relations between Syria and Iran are tight..." [16]

In an Al-Watan article about Gul's visit, Syria's relations with Turkey were described as "a model for emulation." The article stated that the ultimate goal is to "expand [the circle of cooperation] to include other countries in the region, such as Iraq and Iran, in order to form an economic and political [alliance] that has [both] strategic importance and an Islamic aspect - which will cause it to attract other countries, especially Arab ones. [This alliance] will ensure that the problems of the region are resolved according to the agendas of its countries, rather than the agendas of foreign [elements], and that the security of the region remains in the hands of its people..." The daily also stated that "with Iran and Arab elements included [in it, the Syrian-Turkish alliance] will become a strategic [force] causing a qualitative change in the Middle East power-balance..." This alliance, the paper added, has become possible thanks to the rise to power of the Islamic Justice and Development Party in Turkey, which caused a change in this country's positions. [17]

Supporting the Resistance Is a Human Duty

In their statements following the meeting, Ahmadinejad and Assad stressed that "the continued support of the Palestinian resistance and of the Iraqi government until the withdrawal of the [Israeli and American] occupiers is one of Iran and Syria's top priorities." [18] Ahmadinejad called supporting the Palestinian resistance a human and popular duty incumbent upon Iran and Syria, saying, "[At the Durban conference] in Geneva we held up a mirror to the faces [of the Westerners], and saw how they were afraid to look even at their own reflection... When we hold a mirror up to their faces, we discover who the [real] axis of evil is...

"Today, the evil ones who speak [the language of] violence are in decline, and the Zionist regime, which is at a complete dead end, is beginning to scream like someone afraid of the dark. Syria and Iran, [on the other hand], are on the rise, thanks to their steadfastness and wisdom... Many [people] once called the Zionist regime invincible - but today even our children are no longer afraid of [the Zionists], and now not a single sensible person officially recognizes the Zionist regime." [19]

The Syrian daily Teshreen likewise referred to the struggle with the common enemy, Israel, stating that "the existence of a joint position on Palestine, Jerusalem, the struggle with the Zionist enemy and the support for the resistance proves that [Syria and Iran] are aligned in their understanding of this enemy, his plans and his goals, and that they have come to the same conclusion regarding the importance of confronting this enemy and these plans." [20]

*Y. Yehoshua is Director of Research at MEMRI; A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project; N. Moses is a research fellow at MEMRI


[1] Fars (Iran), May 5, 2009.

[2] ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[3] Fars (Iran), May 5, 2009.

[4] Teshreen (Syria), May 5, 2009.

[5] ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[6] Teshreen (Syria), May 10, 2009.

[7] ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[8] Fars (Iran), May 5, 2009.

[9] (Syria), May 6, 2009.

[10] Al-Watan (Syria), May 11, 2009.

[11] ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[12] Fars (Iran), May 5, 2009.

[13] ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[14] Al-Thawra (Syria), May 6, 2009.

[15] Al-Watan (Syria), May 6, 2009.

[16] Al-Thawra (Syria), May 17, 2009.

[17] Al-Watan (Syria), May 19, 2009.

[18] ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[19] Fars (Iran), May 5, 2009. During his visit, Ahmadinejad also met with Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al, and told him that the resistance and steadfastness of the Palestinian people make a valuable contribution towards [achieving] the final victory. He also met with Islamic Jihad Secretary-General 'Abdallah Shalah. ISNA (Iran), May 6, 2009.

[20] Teshreen (Syria), May 5, 2009.

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