Iran has been backing Damascus since the beginning of the Syrian civil uprising, some four months ago. Tehran has provided security and propaganda assistance, accusing the US and the West of attempting to overthrow the Assad regime under the guise of a false ‘Arab Spring’, according to IDF Lt. Col (ret.) Michael Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran and terrorism and a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
In a position paper written for the center, he described how Iran is taking advantage of the ‘Arab Spring’, or the ‘Islamic awakening’ to disseminate the Islamic revolution ideologies of Ayatollah Khomeini to the Arab world in upheaval.
"Yet with the turmoil in Syria, Iran now finds itself confronting a real possibility of losing one of its most important allies. The fall of the Assad regime would likely undermine the resistance camp and break the continuity of the "Shiite crescent" stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon", he asserts.
That is the reason, , Lt Col. Segall continues, that it is no surprise that there are reports of Iranian participation in the suppression of the Syrian protests. Elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Al-Quds Force, Iranian Law Enforcement Services as well as Hizbullah operatives, are helping Assad quell the uprising.
Iran has also "apparently provided advanced eavesdropping equipment enabling the pinpointing of phone or internet communications between anti-regime activists", he writes.
As for the United States and EU hesitation, he explains that Syria has good relations with the two Middle Eastern superpowers of the past, Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) and Iran (Persian). and therefore "occupies a pivotal point between the old Middle Eastern order and the new order that Iran is seeking to shape in keeping with its worldview. Syria's special status in opposing a Pax Americana (a minority position among the Arab states) and in having good relations with these two past superpowers of the Middle East", perhaps explains (in part) why the West is reluctant to take a stand on the Syrian situation, preferring to wait and see what will develop from the violent repression.
Assad’s downfall, the last of the brave Arab leaders who defy the west, following the removal of Saddam Hussein, would likely herald the end of the era of Arab nationalism and facilitate the formation of a new Arab and/or Islamic identity, Segall asserts.
And perhaps more ominously, in the shadow of the growing assertiveness of (Shiite) Iran and (Sunni) Turkey, both of which seek a great-power role, the Arab world finds itself divided and lacking any guiding paradigm as the old order falls apart, with only Islamism to replace it.