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The Case of Iranian Cultural Diplomacy in Syria

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The study of intra-regional use of soft power in the Middle East has received little attention to date. This article focuses on the case of revolutionary Iran's cultural diplomacy in Syria, to throw light on the Iranian government's efforts to promote its Islamic values and build relationships between the two peoples. After introducing the Islamic Republic's motivations in establishing cultural relations abroad, the article examines the goals and content of Iran's cultural diplomacy work in Syria, against the background of bilateral relations. It will become clear that Islamic Iran understands the importance of soft power in advancing its ideas and establishing lasting links. The government utilizes conventional methods of cultural diplomacy and tries to reach out to the Syrian population at large. Whilst the Syrian regime cooperates with its ally, the initiative comes from the Iranian side. The study is based on field work in Syria in 2008, drawing on interviews and publications from the Iranian Cultural Chancellery in Damascus.


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