Better still, some of Washington’s most ardent foes are finding themselves on the wrong side of the Arab revolts. This is principally because of the situation in Syria. Iran, and more openly its Lebanese client Hizbollah, have openly endorsed Mr Assad, on the grounds that he is a bulwark of the “resistance axis” against Israel.
There have been unsubstantiated reports of Iranians and Hizbollah militants being active in the Syrian repression. Even if this is untrue it doesn’t matter, for many Syrian protesters and their sympathisers believe it to be. The reputation of Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s secretary general, has been battered. Syrians have mocked him in satirical sketches, accusing him of hypocritically cheering only those democratic movements that serve his political and sectarian objectives.
Oddly enough, for once the US has come out ahead in the reputation game. At this late stage it is easier to overlook initial American misgivings about popular movements than it is to ignore the fact that Sheikh Nasrallah and Iran are explicitly aligned with a murderous leadership in Damascus. Perhaps that’s because they sold themselves for so long as partisans of the deprived, against the indignities imposed by the West, and by the US and Israel in particular. How they must have groaned last week when the Syrian army bombed a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia.