Tags: Mideast | 'Axis | Terror' | Forms | Challenge | U.S.

Mideast 'Axis of Terror' Forms to Challenge U.S.

Friday, 21 April 2006 12:00 AM

A new anti-Western alliance that has been branded an "axis of terror" has formed in the Middle East to challenge America's regional ambitions.

In an article headlined "Mideast ‘axis' forms against West," The Christian Science Monitor details how this alignment has strengthened in recent months as Iran forges closer ties with Syria and Iraq and with groups – Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – that share Tehran's hostility toward Israel and the United States.

"The alliance that is emerging in this part of the world is a creation of Iran," Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst, told the Monitor.

"It wants to bolster its position by allying itself with countries or groups that can temporarily enhance its regional role and influence." Israel's United Nation envoy Dan Gillerman dubbed this alliance the "new axis of terror" on Tuesday after a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed nine Israelis was blamed on the Iranian-funded Islamic Jihad.

"A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasizing as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the newly elected government of the Palestinian Authority," Gillerman said.

So far the new axis appears to be thriving. Hezbollah has become one of the most influential players in Lebanon; Iran is boasting of its success in uranium enrichment; and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is drawing praise in his country for strengthening ties with Tehran. Last weekend, Iran hosted a conference in support of the Palestinians and pledged $50 million to the Hamas government.

"This is an anti-America alliance," Joshua Landis, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and author of Syriacomment.com, told The Monitor.

"The war on terror has alienated the Muslim countries who now believe that America is the big bad ogre and specter of imperialism."

A series of elections in the Middle East also bolstered the burgeoning alliance. Shiite factions close to Iran dominated the Iraqi elections in December, and in January Hamas dominated the Palestinian elections, "granting Iran greater leverage in the Israeli-Palestinian arena," The Monitor reports.

The alliance is bearing fruit economically as well as politically. In February, Iran and Syria signed extensive trade agreements, including one establishing gas, oil, railroad and electrical links between Syria and Iran via Iraq.

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A new anti-Western alliance that has been branded an "axis of terror" has formed in the Middle East to challenge America's regional ambitions. In an article headlined "Mideast 'axis' forms against West," The Christian Science Monitor details how this alignment has...
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Friday, 21 April 2006 12:00 AM
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