Iran’s Minister of Defense Amir Hatami, whose visit to Damascus last week was interesting, spoke of Iran’s desire to “strengthen Syria’s military arsenal” and help it “expand its military equipment,” as reported by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA). He hinted that he’s “trying to pave the way for the next phase of cooperation.” So what is this next phase? Does it mean Iran’s withdrawal from Syria?
The attempt to end the twin-status between the Iranian and Syrian regimes has not succeeded despite the Israeli shelling of Iranian troops in Syria, and which is on the largest scale since the 1973 war, and despite Russia’s declaration that it does not support Iran’s continuous presence in Syria and will not protect it from the Israeli airstrikes. The Americans said they tried to tempt the Damascus regime but failed, and Iran’s media outlets in Lebanon had claimed that Saudi Arabia tried and failed.
Damascus’ relation with Tehran is an old ongoing problem for the region that goes back to the period of the Iranian-Iraqi war in the 1980s. It developed within the framework of the alliance of necessities, the Syrian Baathist thus allied with the religious Iranian.
In the end of the 1990s, there was no longer a reason for this relationship of necessity. The father Hafez al-Assad sought to diminish confrontations – paving the way for after his death – so he adopted a rapprochement attitude with Saddam’s besieged regime, reconciled with Turkey after handing over the leader of the Kurdish-Turkish opposition and negotiated with Israel over peace and reached an advanced stage of an agreement with it in Geneva. Israel however obstructed signing the deal under the pretext that Assad’s health was deteriorating and that it’s afraid of Syria’s future after him.
Damascus’ relation with Tehran is an old ongoing problem for the region that goes back to the period of the Iranian-Iraqi war in the 1980s.Abdulrahman al-Rashed