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Axis of Resistance

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Axis of Resistance
TypeUnofficial military alliance
Legal statusActive
Middle East

The term Axis of Resistance (Persian: محور مقاومت‎, romanizedmehvar–e moqâvemat, Arabic: محور المقاومة‎, romanizedmiḥwar al-muqāwamah) refers to a political alliance[1] between Iran, the Syrian Assad government and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.[2][3][4] Pro-Syrian government militias, Iraqi Shia militias that are part of the Iraqi Government-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces and the Yemeni Houthi movement (officially: "Ansar Allah") are also considered part of the alliance. Despite the alliance's differing ideologies, for example secular Ba'athism and Shia Islamism, they work together to oppose NATO, Israeli and Saudi Arabian activities in the region.[5]


The term was used by the Libyan daily newspaper Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar in response to American president George W. Bush's claim that Iran, Iraq and North Korea formed an "axis of evil." In an article titled "Axis of evil or axis of resistance," the paper wrote in 2002 that "the only common denominator among Iran, Iraq and North Korea is their resistance to US hegemony."[6] The Iranian newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami subsequently adopted the language in reference to the Shia insurgency in Iraq, writing in 2004 that "if the line of Iraq's Shi'is needs to be linked, united and consolidated, this unity should be realized on the axis of resistance and struggle against the occupiers."[7]

In 2006, the Palestinian minister of the interior, Said Saim, used the term during an interview an Al-Alam television to refer to common political goals among Arabs in opposition to those of Israel or the United States. Noting the large number of Palestinian refugees in Syria, Saim stated, "Syria is also an Islamic Arab country and is also targeted by the Americans and the Zionists. Hence we see in Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas an axis of resistance in front of these pressures."[8]

The term "axis of resistance" was used as early as August 2010.[9] After two years, Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor for foreign affairs to Iran's supreme leader, used the term and said:

The chain of resistance against Israel by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, the new Iraqi government, and Hamas passes through the Syrian highway… Syria is the golden ring of the chain of resistance against Israel.[10]

The phrase was used again on August 2012 during a meeting between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, regarding the Syrian Civil War.[11] He said:

What is happening in Syria is not an internal issue, but a conflict between the axis of resistance and its enemies in the region and the world. Iran will not tolerate, in any form, the breaking of the axis of resistance, of which Syria is an intrinsic part.[10]

The Syrian state-run news agency, SANA, has stated that the two governments discussed their "strategic cooperation relationship" and "attempts by some Western countries and their allies to strike at the axis of resistance by targeting Syria and supporting terrorism there."[11]

The alliance has been described as an "Axis of Terror" by the prime minister and ambassadors of Israel.[12][13][14]


At first, the alliance consisted of the Syrian government and Lebanese Hezbollah. Years later Iran, already closely aligned with Syria and Hezbollah, would form stronger relations between the three, creating the axis. Iraqi and Yemeni militants coordinating with Iran came in as the newest members of this alliance.[5] After the beginning of Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War, a slew of posters showing images of Nasrallah, Assad, Khamenei, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have appeared with an Arabic caption meaning "Men who bow to no one but God." The posters suggest another emerging regional Axis of Resistance, according to The Hill.[15]


The axis has "reshaped the strategic balance in the Middle East"[16] and according to Marisa Sullivan, it has two main pillars; shared regional objectives and shared support.[5] The current ruling minority of Syria is primarily made up of Alawites, who are a sect of Shia Islam, which is also the majority religion of Iran.[17] This common background has made them strategic allies on various issues, including defense.[18] The Sunni Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has also at times been considered part of the axis due to its opposition to Israel and the United States. However, as of March 2012, the group has since pulled its headquarters out of Damascus and thrown its support behind the anti-Assad Syrian opposition.[19][20]


According to Jubin Goodarzi, an assistant professor and researcher at Webster University, the Iranian–Syrian alliance that was formed in 1979 is of great importance to the emergence and continuity of the axis of resistance. Both countries are in key locations of the Middle East, and they have been affecting Middle Eastern politics during the past three decades. Also, the alliance is considered to be an enduring one, lasting 34 years "in spite of the many challenges that it has faced and periodic strains in the relationship".[10]

Axis of resistance vs. Israel

The axis claims to be against Israel in order to shore up popular support across the Islamic world, according to Tallha Abdulrazaq writing in the Middle East Monitor, and it took a severe blow after Israeli Mazraat Amal air strike.[21] Three days before that airstrike against Hizbollah convoy, Hizbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah said: "...we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria."[22]

Axis of resistance vs. ISIL

Hezbollah rejects the idea of Lebanon helping in the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq arguing that it may lead to the U.S domination in the region or "substituting terrorism with flagrant US occupation".[23]

See also


  1. ^ "Syria: Iran vows it will not allow Assad to fall". The Daily Telegraph. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Iran backs Assad as Syrian forces choke off Aleppo". Reuters. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Iran: Syria part of 'axis of resistance'". CNN. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  4. ^ Drums Of War: Israel And The "AXIS OF RESISTANCE" (PDF), International Crisis Group, 2 August 2010, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04
  5. ^ a b c Sullivan, Marisa (April 2014), Hezbollah in Syria (PDF), Institute for the Study of War
  6. ^ "Collapse of US-Libyan Talks Highlighted by Revived Anti-US Rhetoric from Tripoli". Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily. February 12, 2002.
  7. ^ "BBC Monitoring quotes from Iranian press 18 May 04". BBC. May 18, 2004.
  8. ^ "Interview with Said Saim, Palestinian Minister of the Interior, discussing the security chaos in the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian national dialogue and relations with other Arab countries". Federal News Service. May 29, 2006.
  9. ^ "Calm on Israel-Lebanon front belied by talk of war". Reuters. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b c Goodarzi, Jubin (August 2013). "Iran and Syria at the Crossroads: The Fall of the Tehran-Damascus Axis?" (PDF). Viewpoints. Wilson Center.
  11. ^ a b "Iran: We're in 'axis of resistance' with Syria". CBS News. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  12. ^ 50 tons of weapons seized by Israel, Telegraph, 16 March 2011
  13. ^ Israel pursues strikes on Lebanon, BBC, 14 July 2006
  14. ^ GILLERMAN FINGERS 'AXIS OF TERROR', JPost, 22 Feb 2006
  15. ^ Schenker, David (7 October 2015). "Putin and the Shiite 'Axis of Resistance'". TheHill. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Challenging the Axis of Resistance: Syria, Iran and the Strategic Balance in the Middle East". USIP. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  17. ^ The Alawi capture of power in Syria, Middle Eastern Studies, 1989
  18. ^ "Syrian DM Stresses Tehran-Damascus Joint Confrontation against Attacks". Fars News Agency. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2012.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Syria crisis causes Iran-led 'axis of resistance' to fray". CS Monitor. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Hamas rattles the Resistance Axis". Al Alarabiya News. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  21. ^ Abdulrazaq, Tallha (28 January 2015). "The Axis of Resistance: Time to put up, or shut up". Middle East Monitor.
  22. ^ Levitt, Matthew (2015). "Hezbollah: pulled between resistance to Israel and defense of Syria". CTC Sentinel: 5.
  23. ^ Qanso, Wafiq (18 September 2014). "Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Russia vs. the US-led anti-ISIS alliance: Cooperation or confrontation?".