Iran Urges Turkey to Show Restraint in Syria

October 9, 2019

After Turkey’s invasion of Syria on October 9, Iran called on its longstanding ally and neighbor to rethink its plan to create a buffer zone inside Syria. “We are calling on our friendly and brotherly neighbor Turkey to act with more patience and restraint, and to revise its decision and chosen path,” Rouhani said in an interview with the Islamic Student News Agency. “We have openly said that the only solution to ensure safety and security in southern Turkey and northern Syria is the presence of the Syrian army.”

Rouhani’s statement was a notable split with Turkey. Along with Russia, Iran has propped up the regime of President Bashar al Assad – militarily, economically and politically—since it disintegrated into civil war in 2011. Since 2017, Iran, Turkey and Russia have jointly led diplomatic talks to craft a post-war government in Syria. Iran has long insisted on the territorial integrity of Syria. Turkey’s invasion is intended to clear out a Kurdish-led militia and create a buffer zone along the 570-mile border with Syria.

In an address to Parliament on October 9, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif insisted that security in Turkey “cannot be created through (military) action against Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

“The Islamic Republic certainly believes that regional security is possible through observing two principles: first, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity and security of all regional countries, and second, respect for the rights of all its inhabitants, including our Kurdish brothers and sisters.”

Zarif had earlier tweeted….

Iran has a long history of cooperation with Syria. Damascus has been Tehran’s closest ally since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Syria was the only Arab country to support Iran against Iraq after President Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1980.

Iran’s alliance with Syria is part of its strategy to increase influence in the Levant. Syria is also an important territorial piece in Iran’s attempt to establish a land corridor from Tehran, through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut on the Mediterranean. A land bridge would connect Iran to its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

Iran first deployed troops in Syria in 2013. Estimates of Iranian troops in Syria have ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand. But Tehran also mobilized up to 20,000 fighters from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, and elsewhere to prop up the Assad regime. In April 2018, Iranian forces and their proxies had a military presence in nearly 40 facilities across Syria.  As of October, 2019, Iran had spent an estimated $15 billion to support the Syrian regime.