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The Syria-Iran Axis: Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations in the Middle East

The Syria-Iran Axis: Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations in the Middle East (Hardback)

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Since the Iranian Revolution, the close alliance between Syria and Iran has endured for over three decades, based on geopolitical interests between the two states and often framed in the language of resistance. In view of their strong relationship at a state-level, what have Syria and Iran each been doing to foster popular exchange and employ cultural tools to build and image in the other country? The Syria-Iran Axis examines the motivations, content and reach of cultural diplomacy between Syria and Iran to determine to what degree that two partners have been successful in bridging their world views and political outlooks. Beginning with a historical background of relations between the two countries before the overthrow of the Shah, Nadia von Maltazahn offers an analysis of the process of policy formulation, and they key themes which characterize Syrian and Iranian foreign and cultural relations. Whilst the relations between the two countries were limited in the pre-revolutionary period, bilateral relations developed very quickly in the aftermath of the revolution.

Uniquely, The Syria-Iran Axis looks beyond the political and military cooperation between the leaders of these two countries, highlighting the economic and cultural connections between the populations. It therefore examines the scientific, academic, military, economic, industrial, telecommunications and cultural delegations that go back and forth between Damascus and Tehran. With key Shi'i shrines situated in Syria, such as the Sayyida Zaynab and the Sayyida Ruqayya mosques in Damascus, there has been for many years a significant level of religious tourism. Bearing in mind that these levels of inter-cultural connection have been threatened by the ongoing unrest in Syria, von Maltzahn also highlights the ways in which this key relationship has been affected by events in the wider geopolitical sphere. By examining the extent to which a state-directed cultural exchange can foster bilateral relations in the Middle East, von Maltzahn offers a unique analysis of the formation of foreign policy and diplomacy in the region.

Nadia von Maltzahn is a Research Associate at the Orient-Institut Beirut, and has in the past lived and researched in Damascus. She holds a DPhil in Middle Eastern Studies from St Antony's College, Oxford.

More books by Nadia von Maltzahn

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