Saturday, July 18, 2009

A brief guide to the differences between Palestinian Authority, Syrian, and Iranian Strategies toward the West

By Barry Rubin

Here's a brief guide to the differences between Palestinian Authority (PA), Syrian, and Iranian strategies toward the United States and the West. While expressing it in a succinct and perhaps amusing way to make it easier to grasp, I really do believe this is an accurate depiction and distinction.

Palestinian Authority line: We benefit greatly from the fact that Western leaders race around talking about how much we are suffering and how desperate we are for change. In reality, though, we are telling you to go solve the problem for us. Pressure Israel to give us what we want. We aren't going to do anything. On the contrary, we have great patience and prefer to wait a century rather than to make any concessions.

Iranian regime line: We're going to do whatever we want. You are declining, we are getting stronger. Soon we will have nuclear weapons. You want to talk? Sure, we'll talk. We'll make commitments and not keep them. So what are you going to do about it? Nothing? We thought so!
Syrian line: We are very powerful! No matter what the regional issue is you cannot do anything without our help: Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestinians, terrorism, etc. You name it. You need us. So give us what we want and we will help you. (Though of course even if you give us what we want--say, control over Lebanon--we still won't help you.)

Syria interesting facts 1: A great example of this Syrian behavior was when Iran kidnapped and then released some British navy personnel. The Syrian government claimed credit for the release--though clearly Damascus had nothing to do with it--and the British government actually said "thank you."

Syria interesting facts 2: Syria does sometimes, however, try the gambit of wanting to be helpful but needing to get some reward in order to be able to do so. The classic example was when the government begged for night-vision goggles from the Europeans for the supposed purpose of stopping arms smuggling into Lebanon (which, of course, the regime itself was supervising). Then it turned the night goggles over to Hizballah to use in fighting Israel.

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