On the 18th of this month, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Baqari, the Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army Othman al-Ghanmi, and the Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub have met , the force and the challenge in appearance, fear and ask in the essence and secret , it was said that it was held to discuss military and security cooperation between their three countries , at a time when Iran is suffering from severe US sanctions in recognition of Khamenei and Rohani and Zarif and others, and at a time when the presidency and the new Iraqi government could not determine its position between the axis of America or the sectarian axis of Iran , and at a time when Syria enters the phase after ” ISIS ” , and the consequent reasons for the demise of the presence of the US army, the Russian army, the army of Iran and others, while the Turkish army declares that its presence is temporary and necessary to protect the Turkish border, and no ambitions on Syrian territory.
The Iranian general took the task of speaking on behalf of the three countries to reveal the reason for the meeting, he stressed that it aims to discuss ways to strengthen relations and military coordination in the fight against terrorism between the three countries, and achieve security stability in the region.
For his part, the commander-in-chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Mohammad Ali Jafari did not miss the opportunity of this meeting, without stressing that his country organized 100 thousand popular elements in Syria to fight ISIS, AL-Nusra and Syrian opposition, as well as in Iraq, as quoted by the Iranian agency «Fars».
Jafari did not forget to mention that the entire Palestinian territories are “under the control and fire of Iran’s allies” and that “the Zionist entity has become besieged and is no longer able to expand its borders.”
This tripartite military conference led by the besiege Iran, expressed its apparent aims through a joint press conference held in Damascus as the Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub said that “Syria’s democratic forces will be dealt with in two ways adopted by the Syrian state: either by national reconciliation or by the liberation of the territories that they control by force ».
The Iranian chief of staff has been keen to declare Iran’s possession of two hundred thousand fighters in Syria and Iraq, and that they have been trained and equipped militarily, and the Iraqi government pays salaries of one hundred thousand of them, and Iran pays the salaries of the rest, and this message is multiple targets and parties.
This meeting draws attention to the fact that it is no longer possible for two neighboring Arab States to meet to discuss common, and particularly military affairs without the participation of a non-Arab third party, Iran.
This development is further aggravated by the fact that Iranian leaders are the ones who draw the agenda of these meetings because it simply serves Iran’s national interests and the role of Baghdad and Damascus does not exceed the limits of implementation on the ground , it is not surprising that the talk of “coordination” and “strengthening of relations” is intended to discuss common Iraqi-Syrian border files and the opening of the crossings needed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for the transfer of personnel and equipment to the Syrian interior, as well as to take additional concrete steps towards completion of the Iranian strategic project about the construction of a land road and rail link up Iranian territory to the Syrian port of Latakia through the Iraqi city of Basra.
The meeting coincides with an increasing talk about Iran’s interest in controlling the port of Latakia as a gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. Press reports indicated the possibility of transferring container port management in Latakia (shipping containers) to an Iranian administration at the beginning of October, which means granting Iran access to the port without obstacles.
According to the British newspaper “Times” , “the companies of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has already begun to transport goods through the port, indicating that Tehran may use it as a crossing for arms,” adding that “the port will be the link between the Mediterranean and the land road in the so-called” Shiite Crescent “extending from Iran through Iraq and Syria.”
The conference comes as a result of a number of developments, including the growing Russian talk about the need for the exit of all armed forces from Syria, including the Iranian forces, and Russian statements that there is an agreement with the Israeli side on the possibility of forming an international working group to achieve this goal during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Russia last month.
it is notable in this military meeting , although it was held to discuss the Kurdish issue in Syria and the region, as it was announced, but Turkey was far from that meeting , and Russia did not attend the tripartite conference, which included a message from Iran to Russia, America and Turkey that Iran posses in its hands cards that can use them to impede the international efforts which exclude Iran in Syria and it can use military means to achieve more control for it and its allies , the Iranian chief of staff speaks boldly that Iran has armed forces under its control and orders are estimated at one hundred thousand in Iraq and the same in Syria, that is to say that Iran has ( 200) thousand fighters in the region and able to be engaged in its next regional wars.
This Iranian message or threat ostensibly poses challenges to the US military presence in both Syria and Iraq, but in its essence and secret bears a hope and ask that America will not be involved in military action against Iran. This Iranian concern is confirmed by Khamenei’s statement on March 21 that Iran possesses missiles Capable of hitting all US military bases in the region. ”
Khamenei’s recognition of the harsh impact of US sanctions on Iran after President Ruhani’s recognition of this is proof that the Iranian plan is to inform the Iranian people of the need for confrontation with America and that this confrontation is also on Syrian and Iraqi soil. Iran prepares itself militarily to counter American and Israeli interests outside its borders and its argument that it does not accept the starvation of its people first, and it has military forces in Syria and Iraq estimated by hundreds of thousands and will not let them watch the death of Iran from the inside, and will not leave them idle and unemployed watching Iran to face any military attack on Iranian territory that is currently excluded .
It is clear that the meeting of the chiefs of staff of the “resistance axis” in Damascus completes the military part of the agendas of the Syrian regime’s recent visit to Tehran and the “historic” visit of Iranian President Hassan Rowhani to Iraq, where Iran sows and Iran harvests , but on the Arab soil .
Arab Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies