National Security

Iran Touts ‘Axis of Resistance’ in Condemnation of UAE-Israel Agreement

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

After the historic United Arab Emirates-Israel peace deal announced by the White House Thursday, multiple regional powers expressed their discontent—including Iran, which promised to redouble its efforts within its "Axis of Resistance."

Tehran "strongly condemned … [the agreement as] a strategic stupidity by Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, which will undoubtedly strengthen the Axis of Resistance in the region," an official statement reads.

The "Axis of Resistance" comprises countries hostile to Israeli and American regional interests, including Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and Iran-backed terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Houthi militia groups in Yemen. The term, which first emerged during the Iraq war, is drawn from former president George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil"—a term he used to describe the United States' adversarial powers in his 2002 State of the Union address.

At the time, some on the left criticized Bush for including Iran on his "Axis of Evil."

"It makes little sense to lose what leverage we may have in Tehran," a 2002 editorial from the New York Times reads. "Over the long term, improved relations with Iran would be a force for peace in the Middle East."

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden criticized the term in a PBS interview at the time.

"Within a matter of two weeks, there was a—I won't call it backpedaling because that's pejorative—but I think there was a refinement of what they meant by [the Axis of Evil]," Biden said.

Bush's term has found its way back into national security parlance to describe the current threats Washington faces. In 2019, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) called Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran the "new axis of evil." 

"There is no end to their efforts to try to undermine us," she said.