Iran’s influence on regional politics is not what it once was. Today, its influence is limited mainly to Syria with other countries in the region distancing themselves from being associated with the Islamic Republic.
Continued protests in Iran coupled with political rifts have illustrated that Iran is as distressed as its neighbours.
News that Tehran is supplying Damascus with equipment, manpower and intelligence in order to help its long-time ally quash the civil disorder comes as no surprise. The uprising against the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad began in mid-March and Iran has been his biggest supporter. More recently, Iran is said to have deployed snipers in Syria as part of a brutal government crackdown. Its increased efforts to support Al-Assad come as the rest of the region and the world distances itself from the regime’s actions.
When the Arab uprisings initially broke out, Iran was among the first to declare its absolute support of the protests. It was a different matter when protests broke out in Iran and highlighted its vulnerability, something the regime does its best to hide.
The help Iran is offering Syria is further damaging its reputation. Its ongoing efforts to develop a nuclear programme also continue to worry the world’s superpowers and the Gulf due to its proximity.
To regain regional influence, Tehran will need to be seen to be more cooperative with the US and also to lay the groundwork for better cooperation with its neighbours. Failure to do so means Tehran’s fate as an isolated nation with no affiliation to any defence alliance will be sealed.