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The term Axis of Resistance (Persian: محور مقاومت‎) (also Resistance and Deterrence Axis)[1] commonly refers to a Shiite anti-Israel and anti-Western[2] alliance between Iran, Syria, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah,[3][4] and Hamas.[5] This Iran-led alliance aims to oppose Western, namely United States and Israel, interests in the region.[6]


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."[7] 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."[8]

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."[9]

The term "axis of resistance" was used as early as August 2010,.[10] 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.”[11]

"Axis of resistance" was confirmed 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 ongoing conflict in Syria.[12] 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."[11]

An infographic showing hezbollah's role in the axis.

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."[12]


At first, this alliance was consisted of the Assad regime in Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah. Years later, Iran and Iraq came in as the newest members of this alliance.[6]


According to Marisa Sullivan, the alliance has two main pillars, namely shared regional objectives and shared support.[6] The current ruling minority of Syria is primarily made up of Alawi Muslims, who are a sect of Shi'a Islam (the majority religion of Iran).[13] Their shared background has made them strategic allies on various issues including those of defense.[14] The Sunni Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has also at times been considered part of the axis due to its anti-Israeli and anti-Western views. 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.[15][16]


According to Jubin Goodarzi, assistant professor and researcher of Webster University, Iranian-Syrian alliance which was formed in 1979 is of a great importance regarding its emergence and continuity. Both countries are key locations of Middle east and they have been affecting Middle east 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".[11]

Axis of resistance vs. Israel

Cartoon of Hezbollah, Iran, Hamas, with Iran as puppetmaster. This comic echoes a popular viewpoint in Israel.

The axis is against Israel, according to Tallha Abdulrazaq of Middle East Monitor and it took a severe blow after Israeli Mazraat Amal air strike.[17]

Axis of resistance vs. ISIS

According to al-Akhbar, Iran and Hezbollah, like Russia, will not sorrow if the existent threat of ISIS, which is promoting sectarian conflicts, is removed by the U.S coalition but it does not mean that they are not "suspicions regarding American intentions". In other words, "this axis will not allow the new alliance to squander its gains, or at the very least, will spare no effort to limit its own losses". Hezbollah rejects the idea of Lebanon as a part of 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", in other words.[18]

See also

  • Shia Crescent – as of 2012, the "axis of resistance" term partly corresponded with the Shia Crescent, a term for a contiguous group of Shia countries.
  • Iran-Israel proxy conflict


  1. "Hariri wants operation Decisive Storm moved to Syria". The Daily Star. 23 August 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015. "[...] the Assad regime’s claim of being part of the so-called “Resistance and Deterrence Axis,” an anti-Israel coalition that also includes Iran and Hezbollah." 
  2. "Syria: Iran vows it will not allow Assad to fall". The Daily Telegraph. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  3. "Iran backs Assad as Syrian forces choke off Aleppo". Reuters. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  4. "Iran: Syria part of 'axis of resistance'". CNN. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  5. "Drums Of War: Israel And The "AXIS OF RESISTANCE"". International Crisis Group. 2 August 2010. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Sullivan, Marisa (April 2014). "Hezbollah in Syria". Institute for the Study of War. 
  7. "Collapse of US-Libyan Talks Highlighted by Revived Anti-US Rhetoric from Tripoli". Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily. February 12, 2002. 
  8. "BBC Monitoring quotes from Iranian press 18 May 04". BBC. May 18, 2004. 
  9. "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. 
  10. "Calm on Israel-Lebanon front belied by talk of war". Reuters. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Goodarzi, Jubin (August 2013). "Iran and Syria at the Crossroads: The Fall of the Tehran-Damascus Axis?". Wilson Center. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Iran: We're in 'axis of resistance' with Syria". CBS News. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  13. The Alawi capture of power in Syria, Middle Eastern Studies, 1989
  14. "Syrian DM Stresses Tehran-Damascus Joint Confrontation against Attacks". Fars News Agency. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  15. "Syria crisis causes Iran-led 'axis of resistance' to fray". CS Monitor. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  16. "Hamas rattles the Resistance Axis". Al Alarabiya News. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  17. Abdulrazaq, Tallha (28 January 2015). "The Axis of Resistance: Time to put up, or shut up". Middle East Monitor. 
  18. Qanso, Wafiq (18 September 2014). "Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Russia vs. the US-led anti-ISIS alliance: Cooperation or confrontation?". 

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