One of the arguments advanced to justify Israel’s recent peace overtures to Syria was that a security guarantee might empower Damascus to sever its close ties to Tehran. Yesterday’s announcement of a new Syrian-Iranian defense cooperation pact, though, should put that one to rest. Some people will point to this as proof that a peace deal with Syria is unrealistic. What’s unrealistic, though, is the idea that we will somehow isolate Iran through a policy of containment that neither Iran’s allies, nor some of our own, have an interest in pursuing. At some point, it would be useful to realign the regional role we’re willing to grant Iran with something that more closely resembles reality. Not only would it make our own policy goals more achievable, it might even provide an incentive for Iran to become a more responsible influence.
Update: Just after posting this, I ran across this Asia Times Online article about what the Israel peace track represents to Syria. It’s worth a read, if only for the way it clarifies the many differences between Syrian and Iranian regional objectives. They might be friends and allies, but the pursuit of peace with Israel demonstrates that Syria is far from automatically aligned with Iran.