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Iran as a U.S. Ally?

Is the United States making new friends by challenging the Iraqi regime?

November 12, 2002

Is the United States making new friends by challenging the Iraqi regime?

So why, to the great surprise of Syria's own diplomats at the United Nations, did Damasacus decide at the last minute to join the other 14 Security Council members — and vote for the Resolution against Iraq?

The conventional wisdom at the UN is that it was the Russians and French who both pressed Syrian President Bashar Assad to make the vote unanimous. But Middle Eastern sources say that the vital factor was Syria's most important ally — Iran.

Tehran and Damascus have been arguing back and forth over the past month about Iran's decision to give "limited cooperation" including the use of its air space to the Americans and British against Iraq.

Just before the crucial UN vote on November 8, the rift was made public by Syria's best known media figure and unofficial spokesman, Ibrahim Hamidi.

Syria’s President Bashar Assad then spoke to his Iranian counterpart, President Mohammed Khatami. Hours later, Syria cast its vote against Iraq.

Amazingly, Iran's cooperation is going a lot further than allowing British and American warplanes into their airspace.

Building on the cautious links made between U.S. Special Forces and specialized units of Iran's Revolutionary Guard during the fighting against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, the Iranians are giving far more help than anybody ever expected.

As a result, U.S. liaison officers from Central Command staff have been appointed to discuss logistics needs with the Iranian counterparts, starting with U.S. hopes to send heavy bridging equipment for crossing the Euphrates through Iran into Iraq.

There are also strong rumors inside the Special Forces community that Iranian specialist troops have been inserted alongside U.S. and British Special Forces teams currently operating in the marsh districts of southern Iraq.

This could pay off big for Tehran after the war.