Evil from the north: The DPRK-Syria axis and its strategic dimensions

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The Israeli Air Force attack on a Syrian military base reportedly containing materials of strategic value supplied by North Korea, has shed some light on the largely concealed issue of the relations between the two countries. Considered "rogue states" and a part of the alleged "axis of evil," both the DPRK and Syria are internationally isolated, economically backward and politically oppressive. Yet, their attempts to acquire strategic weapons should not only, or necessarily, be interpreted as an indication of strength and aggressive intentions, but could and perhaps should be interpreted as a reflection of a sense of vulnerability and persecution and subjective weakness rather than strength, as well as a response to perceived threats and actual encirclement. However, whatever their motivations, these measures - explicitly or implicitly supported by Russia and China - raise security concerns that are common to both Israel and the ROK. Facing a similar threat from the north, Israel and the ROK - both economically developed and democratically ruled - are still dependent on U.S. military support, for better or worse. For better, because without U.S. support it would have been nearly impossible to withstand the threats facing each country; for worse, because the dependence on Washington limits the options (military as well as political) open to each country. This article attempts to put the DPRK-Syria "rogue brotherhood" in a more comprehensive perspective and to analyze the strategic manifestations and implications of the DPRK-Syria military axis in horizontal and vertical terms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
Number of pages22
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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