There was plenty of truth-stretching during Wednesday night’s GOP debate--along with a few outright whoppers. But we noticed one slip-up from Mitt Romney that we can only assume is a simple matter of geographical confusion.
The former Massachusetts governor, when talking about the threat from Iran, mentioned Syria, which he said was Iran’s ” “only ally” in the Arab world. Well, maybe not-- Iran and Iraq have been pretty chummy of late. But let’s give that a pass.
Then Romney, in highlighting the ties between the two countries, claimed that Syria “is also their route to the sea.”
Um... that seems unlikely, unless the Iranians are taking a pretty convoluted path. In fact, Iran has direct access to waterways, thank you very much, with some 1,520 miles of coastline along the Arabian Sea. It doesn’t even share a border with Syria, so this “route to the sea” that Romney spoke of would involve cutting through Iraq (rugged terrain!) before cutting through Syria to get to the sea. The journey from Tehran to Damascus is about 1,000 miles.
Not an easy jaunt. Or a terribly rewarding one--Syria has a measly 119 miles of coastline fronting the Mediterranean Sea.
Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, says Romney probably was referring to the fact that Syria is Tehran’s “most heavily used logistical route for resupply of Hezbollah and Hamas.” But, she says, that’s got nothing to do with water. “That relationship has little if anything to do with access to the Mediterranean,” she says.
This post originally said the debate was Thursday night. It has been corrected.