Many stars have aligned to make this moment an opportune time to resolve two conflicts in the Middle East — the Syrian civil war and Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon. A new, more moderate faction is in power in Iran, led by President Hassan Rouhani, who has vowed to break the deadlock with the West over Iran,s nuclear program. Not only does Rouhani have the support of key figures within the regime, but more important, he has the backing of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
At the same time, a diplomatic settlement could materialize to end the war in Syria. Such a settlement would have to include Iran, and the outcome is likely to dispense with President Bashar al-Assad while preserving remnants of his Alawite-led regime. Key officials in the Obama administration have signaled they are willing to give Iran a role in the negotiations — something Tehran has demanded for many months. Iran views this scenario as advantageous: Even with Assad gone, Tehran would retain its footprint in Syria and its supply routes to Hezbollah, its key ally in Lebanon.
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