The latest plea for an end to Syria’s crackdown on protesters comes from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—a man not exactly known for his nonviolent credentials. "Regional nations can assist the Syrian people and government in the implementation of essential reforms and the resolution of their problems," Iran’s president reportedly said in an interview yesterday. The call comes as the Syrian situation increasingly threatens Iran, notes the New York Times, because the collapse of the Syrian government would mean the loss of a key ally.
While Iran has allegedly lent support to the crackdown, the country now believes that halting the violence could help President Bashar al-Assad hang on to power. What’s more, "Assad’s heroic image of resistance is being watered down,” notes an expert, and it’s damaging Iran’s standing in the process. The result: Ahmadinejad is torn between supporting revolutions and supporting Assad’s government. "Iran wants to be perceived as the voice of the downtrodden in the Middle East ... their close rapport with the Assad regime undermines that image," explains one analyst—who wasn't impressed by Ahmadinejad's move. "Iran calling for Syria to dialogue rather than use force against its population is akin to Silvio Berlusconi telling Charlie Sheen not to womanize." (Read more Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stories.)