A newly-published book reveals the previously hidden reasons behind Iran’s alliance with Syria’s Hafez al-Assad, and its continued alliance with his son Bashar, who took power after the death of his father in 2000.
Dr. Mustafa Abdel-Aziz Morsi, who was previously the Egyptian ambassador to Syria, wrote in his book ‘Hafez al-Assad: Between reality and legend’ that there are two backgrounds to the alliance between Hafez al-Assad and Iran, giving each of them motives to enforce this alliance.
The author says that Iran’s reasoning was to “provide a platform for the Iranian influence in the Arab region.” He explains that Iran was “planning to find a foothold and a political starting point in the Arab region, through Syria.”
The author says that Tehran created Hezbollah in Lebanon, providing Iran with a support for Khomeini’s intellectual approach, and provided the group with money and weapons.
After asserting that Iran has used Hezbollah as a political tool in Lebanon, the author confirms that Tehran has practised in Beirut what is known as “hostage diplomacy” because Iranian leaders saw that hostage taking is “a way to bargain for a better deal.”
As for the second main reason behind this alliance, it was to topple former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Dr. Morsi reports that some writers tend to say that “there is a sectarian and religious motive behind this alliance.”
He mentions some of them saying that the “sectarian bond was the strongest at the end” to understand the alliance between Iran and Hafez al-Assad. However, the author assumes that the sectarian dimension in the ties between Iran and Hafez al-Assad “is exaggerated.”
However, he did not deny that it helped at first because Assad was using this alliance “to preserve his regime.”
Wilayat al-Faqih is similar to the Assad regime. The author says that there is a similarity between the Syrian regime and Khomeini’s Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is a “populist authoritarian regime” and Hafez al-Assad in turn had also established a similar one. The two regimes are totalitarian. The similarity between the two has “paved the way for the decision to strengthen the ties between the two countries,” especially that the Iranian regime’s power is in the hands of the Wali al-Faqih, just as the power is solely in the hands of Hafez al-Assad.
The author describes how Iran started to expand its influence over Lebanon, which was one of the Revolutionary Guards’ tasks.
He asks: “Was Hafez al-Assad’s position from the continued Iranian expansion in Lebanon through Hezbollah a political miscalculation, or was he deliberately turning a blind eye on it?”
In his book that was published in 2017 in Cairo, the author reveals that Syria became “a country where Iran and other militias shared power and influence with the Syrian regime under the rule of Bashar al-Assad.”
He stressed that Iran has used “the element of political prudence that is essential in Iranian politics” to plan “its bases and have influence in Lebanon.” He revealed that this is “the real face of Iran” that was no longer secreted in the Arab region at a later stage.”
Assad supported Khomeini although the Shah had lent $150 million. The author stated that Hafez al-Assad had previously invited Khomeini to reside in Syria after leaving Iraq, but the latter preferred to go to France. He mentioned that the Shah of Iran had given Assad a $150 million loan, shortly after the October war in 1973.
The real Iranian reasons behind the alliance between with Hafez al-Assad are included in the book about Hafez al-Assad, his rule and how he dealt with his people.
The book is divided into two parts: the first part in seven chapters is about Hafez al-Assad, his career and personality, and how he took power. The second part in six chapters is about Assad’s Arab, regional and international policies.
The two parts come after an introductory chapter, in which the author explained the components that make up the Syrian people along with the minorities, such as the Alawites, the Druze, the Kurds, the Ismailies and the Armenians.