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Operation Peace Spring changing balance of power in Syria, Iraq

Commentary Materials 28 October 2019 15:00
Launching a military Operation Peace Spring in Northern Syria, Ankara, most likely, counted on the support of Russia and Iran as participants in the Astana peace process interested in ending the Syrian crisis.
Operation Peace Spring changing balance of power in Syria, Iraq

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct.28

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Launching a military Operation Peace Spring in Northern Syria, Ankara, most likely, counted on the support of Russia and Iran as participants in the Astana peace process interested in ending the Syrian crisis.

However, despite expectations, Turkey received support (albeit with some reservations) only from Moscow, while Tehran expressed a rather sharp reaction and demanded an immediate halt to the operation.

President Erdogan expressed his regret over this, saying that if Iran could look back at its recent history, it would have seen that Turkey had supported the Islamic Republic in hard times.

"Unfortunately, different reactions came from Iran to our Operation Peace Spring. I was concerned about some statements from Iran. Can one of the countries that signed the [Sochi] Treaty, be so traitorous to another participant of the process? All these actions are wrong. Therefore, I seriously condemn them for their reaction to the "Peace Spring" operation," Erdogan said.

What is the reason for Tehran's reaction?

Openly declared and transparent position on Syria and its close contacts with Moscow and Washington give Turkey an advantage over Tehran, which prefers to act often without publicity in this country.

The difference in the policy of Ankara and Tehran becomes clearer if we recall the origins of the conflict in Syria.

From the very outset, Turkey has sided with the majority of Syrians demanding reforms in the country, and condemned the crackdown on protests and subsequent repression undertaken by the ruling power. Turkey has also shouldered a heavy burden, sheltering three and a half million Syrian refugees, for whom tens of billions of dollars have been spent.

Iran, understandably, defended its own interests in Syria, which are solely embodied by President Assad, and did everything to keep him in power.

However, the Syrian authorities, being formally legitimate, in practice have been the weakest party among the participants in the Syrian conflict, which was clearly evident throughout eight years.

Although Tehran considers itself (and Russia) the only legitimate player acting at the invitation of the Syrian government, it has to watch how balance of power in Syria is changing without its participation.

Turkey’s military operation, and its subsequent agreements with Washington and Moscow once again showed that official Damascus is the last one with whom other participants in the process will talk, and this, in turn, emphasizes that Iran's position in Syria is not as strong as it seems at first glance.

Tehran has reasonable concerns that as a result of the military operation, Turkey will further strengthen its authority among the majority of Syrians, and significantly strengthen its position in negotiations on the future of Syria, given the fact that Ankara does not accept the country to further remain under the rule of Assad – Iran's closest ally.

Another cause for Iran’s concern is that the U.S. military continue to concentrate in Iraq, where almost 6,000 troops are currently stationed. Now their number will likely increase, as an additional one thousand American military are being transferred there from Syria.

The United States lards the territory of Iraq, especially provinces of Nineveh and Anbar that border with Syria, with military bases and checkpoints, in order to keep in sight Iran's communications with other members of the "axis of resistance" alliance.

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