Journal Essay

Syrian Revolt Fallout: End of the Resistance Axis?

Erik Mohns and André Bank

Fall 2012, Volume XIX, Number 3

Mr. Mohns is a PhD fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Middle East Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. Mr. Bank is a research fellow with the Institute of Middle East Studies at GIGA, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies.*

The 2011 Arab revolt has shaken the authoritarian status quo of central Middle Eastern states and contributed to a transformation in the regional power constellation and the dynamics of alliance-making. From the mid-to-late 2000s, Middle East regional politics had been characterized by a polarization between pro-Western status quo powers — mainly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan — and an anti-Western resistance camp made up of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. Turkey and Qatar, occupying a middle ground, made inroads as influential players in regional politics, particularly since 2008.

The ousting of President Mubarak in Egypt, the fall of Colonel Qadhafi's regime in Libya, and the uprising in Syria have unsettled the regional order. Since the beginning of social protests in March 2011 and the massive state repression against them, Syria, under the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has changed from a key regional actor to an arena of regional politics.1 The current situation is therefore reminiscent of the "struggle for Syria" in the late 1940s to early 1960s — the interplay between domestic turmoil and the fight for regional hegemony — that Patrick Seale so masterfully depicted in his classic study.2

As the "struggle for Syria redux" unfolds, analysts have paid relatively scant attention to the internal dynamics and developments of the resistance axis, the anti-Western alliance in which Syria has played such an integral part. The present article attempts to fill this lacuna by tracing the roots of the resistance axis and then examining how its constituents have responded to the Syrian revolt. We conclude by outlining potential scenarios for the future of this group, which, we argue, has been severely weakened by Hamas's decision to withdraw from Damascus in late 2011.

THE RESISTANCE AXIS

The term resistance axis (jabhat al-muqawama) designates the alliance among the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria and the strongest Arab non-state actors, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.3 Alternatively described as "radical," "militant," "pro-Iranian" or "Shii," this axis escapes neat categorization.4 Hamas's membership as a Sunni movement, for example, undermines the representation of the resistance axis as a sectarian Shii alliance. Also, it does not constitute a formalized military alliance, one that would entail collective security in the event of a military confrontation involving one of its parties. The resistance axis is best understood as a political alliance based on common enemies. These include a fundamental opposition to Israel, a rejection of Western (mainly U.S.) policies in the Middle East, and antagonism toward pro-Western Arab status quo powers, foremost Mubarak's Egypt and the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Jordan.5 In terms of ideology, practical constraints and political identity, however, the leaderships of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas differ in notable ways.

Each constituent of the resistance axis has pursued its own interests and made its own decisions in the international arena. None of them, despite considerable asymmetries in their military capabilities, has thus been able to exert hegemony over other axis members. Overall, Hamas's and Hezbollah's continued militancy toward Israel has enhanced the axis's popularity and prestige and confirmed its revolutionary credentials across the Arab region, if not domestically.

The analytical template of a resistance camp confronting pro-Western Arab powers has proven useful in highlighting some key dynamics in regional politics, like the continued importance of a transformed Arabism in the 2000s.6 At the same time, the focus on bipolar alliance building tends to underestimate the complex patterns of interaction and contradictory interests within one alliance, a point that is particularly striking when it comes to the resistance camp. The notion that this group operates with a "militant consensus" has discouraged analysis of its individual actors and their divergent domestic and regional politics. Often, the idea of consensus is inflamed by sensationalist discourse that makes it difficult to distinguish among the actors. This discourse promotes the most militant voices opposing Israeli and Western policies in the Middle East and crowds out alternative perspectives.

Relations among members of the resistance axis, however, are dynamic and continually shifting in response to domestic, regional and international developments. The interests of the Iranian and Syrian leaderships have differed substantially over time. While Iran has ruled out any dealings with Israel, Syria has repeatedly asserted its willingness to negotiate with its neighbor, and, given that certain conditions in a peace deal would be met, to normalize bilateral relations. In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion in 2003, the contradictory interests of Damascus and Tehran in Iraq also became obvious. As in Lebanon throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Syria and Iran followed conflicting agendas and backed different local players, with Iran supporting Nouri al-Maliki and Syria supporting Iyad Allawi in the December 2010 elections.

Since 2010, a deepening of security and military cooperation among Hezbollah, Syria and Iran has taken place. This has led some pundits to argue for a transformation from political-strategic cooperation into a full-fledged military alliance. U.S. officials, in particular, have expressed alarm at what they describe as an unprecedented integration of the axis's military arsenal, along with increased common training, intelligence sharing and the transfer of sophisticated weapons systems.7

BILATERAL RELATIONS BEFORE 2011

Relations among the main actors of the resistance axis have fluctuated considerably. The course of those relations will be retraced with a particular focus on the nature of ties that Syria has maintained with Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.

Syria-Iran

The alliance between Syria and Iran emerged in the early 1980s, as a result of Syria's support for post-revolutionary Iran during the Iraq-Iran War after 1980 and their cooperation in the Lebanon War, which led to the founding of Hezbollah in 1982.8 Despite sometimes divergent regional agendas, external pressure on Damascus to break ties with Tehran and strong discrepancies in the two regimes' ideological outlook, their alliance proved enduring. Iran has provided Syria with weapons, cheap oil, investments and economic assistance. Syria has kept its supply routes open to Hezbollah and Hamas, thereby granting the Islamic Republic a stake in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, considered by some analysts as the central issue delineating the parameters of Iranian foreign policy in general.9 So far, all attempts to drive a wedge between Tehran and Damascus have proven unsuccessful. From 2005 onwards, bilateral economic, educational and cultural cooperation reached unprecedented levels.10 In June 2006, the two states concluded their first mutual-defense pact. In reaction to U.S. and EU efforts to lure Syria away from Iran, Bashar al-Assad invited Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah's general secretary, Hassan Nasrallah, to Damascus. Bashar stated that their ties would grow stronger day by day, thereby sending the message that the Western courtship of Syria would not lead to a reshuffling of regional alliances.11

Syria-Hezbollah

The complex relations between Syria and Hezbollah have evolved considerably over the past 30 years. In the 1980s and 1990s, relations were mainly determined by Syria's evolving strategic interest vis-à-vis Israel. Hezbollah complied with Damascus's commands throughout the Lebanese civil war, as long as they did not contradict its basic interests. Following the Taif Agreement of 1989, Hezbollah adapted to Syrian hegemony over Lebanon, and the two worked out an arrangement enabling Hezbollah to hold onto its weapons. In this context, Hezbollah functioned as Syria's foreign-policy instrument by exerting pressure on Israel, thereby improving Damascus's negotiating position.12 Even after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah continued its "resistance" campaign against Israel by making an issue of the Israeli-annexed Shebaa Farms in the Lebanese border region.13 Overall, Syria's policy towards Hezbollah and the support of its militant activities allowed it to boost its own Arabist credentials and wall off criticism of its engagement in the peace process. It successfully portrayed itself as a stabilizing force in Lebanon and the sole actor capable of enforcing restraint on Hezbollah.

Since Syria's forced military withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005 and Hezbollah's proclaimed "divine victory" in the summer war of 2006, the relationship between the two has been redefined. Hezbollah gained more autonomy and flexibility from Syria, because Damascus had lost its ability to determine the movement's activities or constrain its external actions.14 With rising pressure on both actors following the Hariri assassination of 2005, the Syrian regime increasingly came to view Hezbollah as a trustworthy partner, willing and able to compensate for the loss of its direct rule of Lebanon. Taken together, the close relations with Hezbollah and the latter's "glorious" anti-Israeli record became the key achievement of Assad's resistance posture. The tables had turned. After 2006, Syria reaped more benefits from its association with Hezbollah than the other way around.15

Syria-Hamas

Syria's Hamas policy resulted from its strategic considerations vis-à-vis both Israel and the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah, which had had a problematic relationship with the Assad regime after the early 1980s. When Jordan expelled Hamas's political leadership in August 1999, Syria provided the movement with a base of operations in Damascus. This, together with support for other Palestinian "rejectionist" factions, increased the Syrian regime's legitimacy and helped it fend off claims that its enmity toward Israel and support for the Palestinians were more than shallow rhetoric. It also enabled Syria to have a say in intra-Palestinian politics and thereby indirectly influence developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its own direct means of exercising pressure on Israel were substantially reduced after the forced troop withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005. The "de-Palestinization" of the Palestinian issue in the 2000s, directly associated with the progressive fragmentation of the Palestinian national movement and the failures of the peace process, allowed regional states like Syria and Iran to claim "guardianship" of the Palestinian cause.16

In Syria, Hamas's presence served as a safety valve. By providing a base to an Islamist movement, Syria's formally secular regime bolstered its credentials before an incrementally Islamizing Syrian society.17 Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas's political office, regularly delivered speeches in the capital's mosques, cultural institutions and universities.18 There are some indications that the movement was able to reach out to Damascene Sunni merchants in order to raise funds, though Hamas's leadership and cadres remained under tight control by the Syrian security apparatus. That should not come as a surprise. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, membership in which is punishable by death in Syria. Hamas was thus never granted permission to participate in governing the country's refugee camps, whose institutions are headed by Palestinian members of Syria's ruling Baath Party.

RESISTANCE ACTORS 2011-12

Iran: Caught Up in the Discursive Cage of Resistance

Throughout the Syrian revolt, which began in March 2011, Iran has granted unconditional support to the regime of President Assad. Tehran has a genuine interest in keeping the regime in power, given that any succeeding government would likely reconsider its foreign policy, in general, and its strategic alliance with Iran, in particular. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Burhan Ghalioun, the former chairman of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), claimed that a post-Assad government in Syria would reconsider its ties with Iran and Hezbollah and work to interrupt Iranian arms supplies to Hezbollah through Syria.19 As a consequence, the Islamic Republic would lose its longest-standing Arab ally and access to Hezbollah, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions in Damascus. The Iranian leadership has expressed support for political reforms in Syria, but claims to strictly oppose external interference in the country's domestic affairs. It echoes the narrative upheld by Assad that denounces the uprising as a foreign plot, orchestrated by the United States and Israel, and backed by its erstwhile regional Arab allies, primarily Saudi Arabia. The upheaval is portrayed as a blueprint of U.S. and Israeli hegemonic schemes to restructure the Middle East. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has identified Syria's support for the resistance movements as the main cause of "the U.S.'s hostile policies against the country."20

Overall, it is in Tehran's strategic interest to keep Assad at the levers of powers in Syria, even if it opposes an increasing fragmentation of the country that might spark a growing involvement of regional and international players, perhaps resulting in external intervention. Such an intervention would likely empower both Tehran's rival Saudi Arabia and Turkey, a chief competitor whose government would most likely play a major role in any international military action.

In September 2011, President Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Khameini's domestic rival, rather unexpectedly joined the calls for Assad to end the violent crackdown and implement reform in order to resolve the ongoing crisis.21 Even if the Iranian regime has dismissed an article by the British Daily Telegraph claiming talks were being held with members of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) — the secular oppositional group in Damascus that strongly opposes foreign intervention — it should be assumed that Iran has drawn up contingency plans for a post-Assad order in Syria.22 Support for Assad is increasingly becoming a liability for the Iranian leaders, contradicting its self-image as the voice of justice, speaking on behalf of the Middle East's downtrodden. In fact, this self-characterization dropped significantly in value following the violent repression of the mass protests led by the Green Movement in June 2009. This reaction by the custodians of the Islamic Republic to the charge of election fraud affirmed not only a loss of legitimacy in the country but also region-wide. It revealed the system as neither "Islamic" nor "republican," but just another authoritarian regime claiming power against the will of its own people.

Hezbollah's Balancing Act

Like Iran, Hezbollah maintains a stance toward the Syrian uprising that differs substantially from the verbal support it has given to all the others across the region. The party's leadership designated the upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain as popular revolts against unjust and oppressive rulers. Hezbollah embedded the events into a wider narrative, starting with the Iranian Revolution, of oppressed peoples freeing themselves from Western-imposed imperialist shackles.

In the first months of the uprising in Syria, Hezbollah's leadership refrained from taking a clear and decisive stance, cautiously weighing its options. After summer 2011, however, following the uprising's increasing militarization and some individual calls by Syria's fragmented opposition for international protection and military intervention, Hezbollah threw its lot behind Assad and has since supported its ally in Damascus unconditionally.

Hezbollah's framing of the Syrian uprising is consistent with that of the Iranian leadership; it is a specific site of a broader regional struggle between the "resistance" and pro-Western Arab states. This view pervaded Hassan Nasrallah's speech, delivered on the commemoration of the Prophet's birthday in early February 2012. According to Hezbollah's secretary-general, the Syrian regime had agreed to most of the political reforms requested by the opposition and demonstrated its readiness to enter into dialogue to solve the crisis. The secretary-general rejected accusations of Hezbollah's interference in the Syrian crisis as unfounded and branded the Western camp's involvement in the country's internal affairs as fomenting sectarian civil war. Such a scenario, he posited, could only be prevented through domestic dialogue.23 Responding to Burhan Ghalioun's remarks in The Wall Street Journal, Nasrallah disparaged the Syrian opposition in exile as "present[ing] their credentials" to the United States and Israel.24 Nasrallah's assertions seem to be based on the assumption that regime change in Damascus will not take place easily in the short term. Assad still enjoys support from important sectors of Syrian society and loyalty among upper echelons of the security and military high command.25

Despite the support of the Hezbollah leadership for the Syrian regime, some of the party's second- and third-tier cadres have privately uttered criticism of the party's stance. They argue that the Shii movement should not apply double standards in its policy toward the Arab uprisings. As a movement founded on principles of social justice and respect for the right to resist oppression, its support for a regime that violently cracks down on its own people would result in a severe blow to its credibility region-wide. Instead, they believe, Hezbollah should become more vocal in its calls for the implementation of genuine political reforms. This view seems based on the rationale that a democratically elected government in Syria, based on a power-sharing agreement among numerous political forces, could prevent a single Sunni Islamist actor from monopolizing power, a scenario that Hezbollah regards as a threat to the current power balance in Lebanon. The internal critics are counting on the commitment of the Syrian people to a "resistance" that would continue to support the struggle for the liberation of Arab lands from Israeli occupation even in a post-Assad context.26

The potential severing of its weapons-supply lines, the forfeiting of its strategic depth and the weakening of its deterrence capacities vis-à-vis Israel in the case of Assad's fall are surely the explanation for the position of Hezbollah's leaders toward the uprising. This is valid even if the movement has, as it has claimed, already diversified its supply lines. Yet equally important is the political fallout that regime change in Damascus would have for the Lebanese movement, resulting in severely constraining its ability to influence regional politics. The increasingly militarized uprising that has thrown wide parts of Syria into civil war might spill over into Lebanon. The ongoing instability has already increased sectarian tensions and resulted in repeated armed clashes between pro- and anti-Assad militants in the northern city of Tripoli.27 Sunni-dominated northern Lebanon, housing oppositional activists, refugees and militants alike, has turned into an anti-Assad stronghold and sanctuary for Syria's armed opposition and their supply lines.28

Hamas Breaks Ranks

Hamas is the only actor in the resistance axis that has clearly broken ranks as a result of the Syrian uprising. The movement's Damascus-based political leadership refrained from granting unconditional rhetorical support to the Assad regime, striving instead to maintain a position of neutrality. According to sources with access to the Hamas leadership, Khaled Mishal had warned the Assad regime in early 2011 that the wave of protests would not stop at Syria's doorstep and advised it to introduce genuine political reforms. The regime rejected his proposition.

A few weeks into the uprising, the Syrian regime pressured Hamas's leaders to publicly pledge allegiance.29 They rejected those demands, responding that a strategic partnership with Syria would be based on a common enmity toward Israel and that Hamas would refrain from intervening in any Arab state's domestic affairs.

The Palestinian pro-regime factions in Damascus, above all Ahmad Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), strongly criticized Hamas for its refusal. In response to two explosions in the Syrian capital on December 23, 2011, Hamas's media office issued a short official statement expressing condolences to the victims as well as to all those who had lost their lives throughout the uprising. The statement sought to strike a neutral tone by expressing the hope that the Syrian people would find a political solution to the ongoing crisis.30 The regime was infuriated and increased its pressure on the movement's Damascus-based leadership to express support, according to Ali Sadredine Bayanouni, former general guide of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.31 Prior to the statement's release, pressure on the movement had also been mounted from Tehran, which, according to diplomatic sources, has either halted or significantly reduced its financial donations to the movement. This support is essential for upholding Hamas's material capacity to rule over the Gaza Strip.32 By the end of 2011, all Damascus-based members of Hamas's political office had left the Syrian capital despite previous statements that it would continue to keep a presence there.33 The terms of Hamas's relations to Syria and Iran have thus changed considerably.

Early requests by Hamas of regional governments — namely Egypt, Qatar and Turkey — to allow it to officially open political headquarters in their capitals appear to have been denied.34 The former Damascus-based members of the political office are now scattered across Arab capitals; a few have returned to the Gaza Strip. Hamas's leadership had several reasons to leave the Syrian capital, some Syria-specific, others broader-based. Hamas's leadership feared that the Assad regime might launch large-scale revenge attacks on Palestinian camps in the country, as had already happened in al-Raml, a camp in Latakia, during summer 2011. Also, the fact that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood plays a considerable role in Syria's opposition is a cause of concern for Hamas, which considers itself to be the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas's break with the "resistance camp" is mainly due to the significant shifts in the regional power structure resulting from the Arab uprisings.35 The Egyptian, Qatari and Turkish governments, who all have urged Bashar al-Assad to step down, have reportedly played an essential role in convincing the Hamas leadership to reconcile with Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas and soften its militant stance against Israel.36 The Egyptian authorities mediated the Hamas-Fatah rapprochement; and in February 2012, the Qatari government, now hosting Khaled Mishal, reconciled Hamas with the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan. Both deals, negotiated by adversaries of the Syrian regime, were conducted without any consultation with Damascus.

AFTER THE AXIS

Political scenarios in Syria of either a "controlled regime collapse" or a "soft landing" for the regime under President Assad become less likely by the day. This is due to the extent to which the regime's military oppression is met by an increasingly militarized opposition and by the economy's slow-motion collapse, as well as by the lack of an international consensus about how to resolve the crisis. The more protracted the conflict becomes, the more difficult it is to anticipate how Syria's two remaining allies in the resistance axis, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, will behave. If a direct military intervention develops, the conflict would likely spill over into the very fragile Lebanon, a scenario Hezbollah clearly wants to prevent. It fears that a post-Assad government dominated by Sunnis could squeeze it between Damascus and its Lebanese Sunni political rivals, organized in the March 14 Coalition.

When faced with a situation in which its ouster appeared imminent, the Assad regime might very well be willing to bring down "the whole temple." There are numerous ways through which the regime, with or without the support of its allies in Tehran and Beirut, could attempt to provoke a massive Israeli attack. 37 Hezbollah might be pressured to launch attacks against Israel in an attempt to radically direct the focus of attention away from Syria. At the moment, there is little indication that the Shii movement would embark on such a course. It would entail major risks: for example, massive Israeli retaliation at a time when it no longer could safely bank on protection and military resupply from Syria. Iran might prefer to keep Hezbollah on the leash, in anticipation of — and in order to deter — a possible Israeli strike against its nuclear facilities as well. Still, the more Hezbollah and the Iranian leadership perceive the Syrian crisis as an existential struggle, the greater the risk that they will act militarily. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Arab states at the forefront of efforts to topple the Syrian regime, are also those most prone to polarize Syrian society and frighten some of its key constituents. Their priority is the removal of a pro-Iranian Arab regime, not a transition toward a more democratic Syria.

Even if Israel does not seem ready to go to war at this current phase, it could be tempted to try to neutralize Hezbollah's military arsenal as a prelude to an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities. The Iranian factor adds a further level of uncertainty to an already volatile situation and enhances the possibility of a spiraling conflict. Israel perceives that it faces a multilayered threat whose dimensions cannot be isolated from one another and which could evolve into a wider regional conflict. At this moment, the maneuverability of the resistance axis depends heavily on Russia and China. Their diplomatic stalemate with the "Friends of Syria" group is likely to continue as long as those powers' interests and strategic calculi remain insufficiently addressed. The Western blend of outrage combined with economic and political sanctions is unlikely to loosen the Gordian knot.

The resistance axis faces three profound challenges to its regional influence. Hamas's exit has stripped it of important symbolic capital. The Syrian regime's potential demise has increased its strategic vulnerability. The increase in the importance of domestic issues in the Arab world in general has diminished significant portions of its regional political leverage. In fact, the rise of the power of Islamist movements across the region — in Egypt, Tunisia, and probably soon in Libya and Yemen — suggests that a new regional alliance, probably led by Qatar or Turkey, is in the making and Hamas is eager to join it. This new bloc might be less confrontational and militant vis-à-vis U.S. and Israeli policies in the near future, but it will claim allegiance to the Palestinian cause and likely emerge as an important player in the regional power equation in the mid-term. Hamas's leadership has not only anticipated these reshufflings of power; it seems correct to assume that the Palestinian issue will remain of utmost importance for the regionally elected governments' legitimacy at home. Equally, no democratically elected government in a post-Assad Syria will revise its stance vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinian issue as long as Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights continues. All the actors in Syria's politically divided opposition, whether at home or in exile, agree on this point.

 

* The authors would like to thank Oliver Borszik, Francesco Cavatorta, Maren Koss, Seth Rogoff and Stephan Rosiny for insightful comments and productive criticism.

1 For an overview of the Syrian uprising, see Joshua Landis, "The Syrian Uprising 2011: Why the Assad Regime Is Likely to Survive to 2013," Middle East Policy 19, no. 1 (2012): 72-84.

2 See Patrick Seale, The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics, 1945-58 (Oxford University Press, 1965).

3 The Lebanese Shii Amal movement as well as the diverse Damascus-based Palestinian factions, backed by the Syrian and Iranian regime, might also be considered as members of this alliance. For an overview of the Palestinian factions, cf. Anders Strindberg, "The Damascus-Based Alliance of Palestinian Forces: A Primer," Journal of Palestine Studies 29, no. 3 (2000): 60-76. However, the influence of Amal and the Palestinian factions on the regional power equation is rather limited.

4 Cf. Abbas William Samii, "A Stable Structure on Shifting Sands: Assessing the Hizbullah-Iran-Syria Relationship," Middle East Journal 62, no. 1 (2008): 32-53; Fred Lawson, "Syria's Relations with Iran: Managing the Dilemma of Alliance," Middle East Journal 61, no. 1 (2007): 29-47.

5 For the pro-Western Arab regimes' stance in the context of the Lebanon War 2006 and the Gaza War 2008/9, cf. Morten Valbjørn and André Bank, "The New Arab Cold War: Rediscovering the Arab Dimension of Middle East Regional Politics," Review of International Studies 38, no. 1 (2012): 6-9, 15-21.

6 Ibid.

7 International Crisis Group, "Drums of War: Israel and the ‘Axis of Resistance,'" Crisis Group Middle East Report, no. 97 (2010): 6.

8 For a detailed analysis of the genesis and development of the alliance, see Jubin Goodarzi, Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2009).

9 Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, An Examination of the Ideological, Political and Strategic Causes of Iran's Commitment to the Palestinian Cause, Conflicts Forum Monograph, July 2011, 3, http://conflictsforum.org/briefings/AmalSaadGhorayeb.pdf.

10 Some observers make out an Iranian-inspired "Shiitization" in Syria. See Thomas Pierret, "Karbala in the Ummayad Mosque: Sunni Panic at the ‘Shiitization' of Syria in the 2000s," in The Dynamics of Sunni-Shia Relationships: Doctrine, Transnationalism, Intellectuals and the Media, Brigitte Maréchal and Sami Zemni, eds. (Hurst, forthcoming).

11 Andrew Tabler, In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria (Lawrence Hill Books, 2011), 228.

12 Judith Harik, "Syrian Foreign Policy and State/Resistance Dynamics in Lebanon," Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 20, no. 3 (1997): 249-65.

13 Judith Harik, Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism (I.B. Tauris, 2004), 147-62.

14 Mona Yacoubian, "Hezbollah after Assad: Why the Fall of Damascus Might Compel Hezbollah to Turn Inward," Foreign Affairs, December 1, 2011, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136709/mona-yacoubian/hezbollah-after-assad?page=show.

15 Emile El-Hokayem, "Hizballah and Syria: Outgrowing the Proxy Relationship," Washington Quarterly 30, no. 2 (2007): 35-52.

16 Caroline Donati, L'exception syrienne: Entre modernisation et résistance (Paris: La Découverte, 2009), 178.

17 Line Khatib, Islamic Revivalism in Syria: The Rise and Fall of Ba'athist Secularism (Routledge, 2011).

18 Thomas Pierret, Baas et Islam en Syrie: La dynastie Assad face aux oulémas (Paris: PUF, 2011), 255, and our own observations.

19 "Syrian Opposition Leader Interview Transcript," Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203833104577071960384240668.html.

20 "Leader Renews Iran's Strong Opposition to Foreign Meddling in Syria," Fars News Agency, February 1, 2012, http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9010173207.

21 Neil MacFarquhar, "In Shift, Iran's President Calls for End to Syrian Crackdown," New York Times, September 8, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/world/middleeast/09iran.html?pagewanted=all.

22 Richard Spencer, "Iranian Officials Meet with Syrian Opposition," Daily Telegraph, November 14, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/8889824/Iranian-officials-meet-with-Syrian-opposition.html.

23 "Sayyed Nasrallah: First Arab Victory in 2000 Was Achieved with Iran's Support," The Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, February 7, 2012, http://www.english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=16611&cid=298.

24 "Hizbollah Leader Makes Rare Appearance," Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2011, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2011/12/hezollah-leader-sheik-hassan-nasrallah-makes-rare-appearance.html.

25 Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Understanding Hizbullah's Support for Assad Regime, Conflicts Forum Monograph, November 2011, 4, http://conflictsforum.org/briefings/Ghorayeb-Monograph-Nov11.pdf.

26 Randa Slim, "Hezbollah's Most Serious Challenge," Foreign Policy's Middle East Channel, May 3, 2011, http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/05/03/hezbollah_s_most_serious_challenge.

27 "Clashes in Tripoli, Lebanon, over Syria Unrest," BBC World News, February 11, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16997656.

28 Emile Hokayem, "Lebanon's Little Syria," Foreign Policy, May 15, 2012, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/15/lebanon_s_little_syria?page=full.

29 Ethan Bronner, "Tensions Rise as Hamas Refuses to Take Sides in Syria," New York Times, May 2, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/world/middleeast/03hamas.html.

30 "Media Statement: On the Criminal Bombings in Syria," Hamas Media Office, December 24, 2011, http://www.hamasinfo.net/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s76xaptrjrocnsfRYW%2ffYMAskpXWuhA3XZcjwpcgziupgR8eCSnFxRiVvYZv%2bvWyfy7XwNQnMg%2bakeJ8wrrbzxJSvDneIT8Ix3%2fZLq61nEMiI%3d.

31 "In Malmo: Talk on Hamas and Syria: The Position of the Syrian Opposition Towards Palestine and the Hamas Movement," Al Jazeera Talk, February 21, 2012, http://aljazeeratalk.net/node/8917.

32 Nidal al-Mughrabi, "Foreign Funds for Hamas Hit by Syria Unrest — Diplomats," Reuters, August 21, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/21/uk-palestinians-hamas-finance-idUSTRE77K19120110821.

33 "Media Statement: On Presence of Hamas in Syria," Hamas Media Office, September 12, 2011, http://www.hamasinfo.net/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7gicgcW5myo5PanwZoHf6XOJQkoRCBCtEzXQ26Z4RP6Td6IA8glPN%2bfUy9nt9nGYEo%2bV2zT4WyTCP%2ftDflpM4FISxzBpNeUFh2y4O%2bqWbGiY%3d.

34 "Turkey Says Won't Host Hamas Office," Today's Zaman (Istanbul), January 31, 2012, http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action;jsessionid=FFD6FB6FD05FDD7265C48405EA2AB3DA?newsId=270136; "Hamas Political Leaders Leave Syria for Egypt and Qatar," BBC News, February 28, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17192278.

35 Larbi Sadiki, "Hamas and the Arab Spring," Al Jazeera International, December 29, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/12/2011122964659993802.html.

36 Bilal Saab, "A New Hamas in the Making?" National Interest, December 20, 2011, http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/new-hamas-the-making-6272?page=show.

37 Nicholas Noe, "We Can't Stop the Bloodshed without Talking to Assad," The Observer, February 12, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/12/nicholas-noe-negotiate-assad-syria.