The real axis of evil
North Korea, Iran and Syria, three pariah nations, comprise a real threat
In January 2002, President Bush declared that Iraq, Iran and North Korea constituted an “axis of evil.” He was close, but not quite correct – the actual members were, and remain, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Labeling these countries an “axis” implies cooperation between the members. Iraq was not part of any relationship with Iran or North Korea. Granted, Iraq was a problem, but not part of an “axis.” However, there are ongoing relationships between Syria, Iran and North Korea that have been going on for decades which might constitute one.
Syria and Iran have been allies since 1982. About a year and a half after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Iran, Damascus and Tehran signed an economic pact that provided Syria with subsidized Iranian oil. In return, Syria shut down Iraq’s main pipeline to the Mediterranean, squeezing Iraq economically.
It was this Syrian-Iranian alliance that provided Tehran with access to Lebanon. In 1982, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps entered the Bekaa Valley, organized the Shia, and created Hezbollah.
Khaled Al-hariri / Reuters file
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
The supply line, used to supply not only Hezbollah, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well, was critical to Hezbollah’s performance during the war with Israel in the summer of 2006. Without Iranian support, these groups would have trouble surviving. Iran’s ability to support them is dependent on its relationship with Syria. The relationship was formalized into a defense pact between the two countries and renewed in 2006. It provides for mutual defense and joint intelligence operations against Israel.
Syria and North Korea have had a relationship since at least the early 1990’s. In northern Syria, North Korean technicians manned a missile development facility and provided Syria with the North Korean produced SCUD-C ballistic missile. The North Korean military attaché was involved in marketing North Korean weapons and training to the Syrian military.
Hasan Sarbakhshian / AP
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The 1908-1988 Iran-Iraq war, which pitted two oil giants against each other, was too lucrative for weapons-producing nations to ignore. In 1983, the United States began Operation Staunch to put pressure on nations whose companies were selling arms to Iran. It was effective with countries that cared about their relationship with the United States.
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