Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Syria to end its brutal crackdown—a surprising policy shift, given Ahmadinejad’s longtime alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the tumultuous Arab Spring, Ahmadinejad has largely supported protesters, but Syria has been different, due to the close relationship between the two leaders, and Ahmadinejad has been accused of providing financial and material support to Syria. In an interview in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said “regional nations can assist” the Syrian people in receiving the key human rights reforms they have been seeking. Ahmadinejad’s shift could be a way to maintain some type of relationship with any government in Syria, since both countries are the only two Shiite-majority nations in the region—and without Syria, Ahmadinejad’s main rivals, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are strengthened and Iran’s pipeline to Hezbollah and Lebanon is cut off.
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