Russian support for the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not restricted with weapons , gear and political support, but moved beyond than that to be active participation, as Russian fighter jets launched air strikes on the organization of the State in Iraq and the Levant “ISIS” on 30 September last month.
This military development transfered the Syrian crisis from its regional framework to the World, which imposed on the political decision-maker in Iran to respond to this development with real practical steps taking in to the consideration the results of the Russian military intervention in Syria, as Iran has postponed the military operations plan against ISIL which was supposed to begin according to a certain plan of Baiji line ,to move to the city of Sharqat passing through the Alhadhar city and down to Tal Afar. The plan has been changed to start its battles in the city of Baiji , Haditha , Qaim and Abu Kamal to reach Syria. In this context, we wonder about the motives of the shift in Iran’s military strategy. As these motives vary according to the different political calculations. And this shift can be read on several levels.
Russia has been talking about the need to set up Borders of “Syria , carried out in the last two years which can not be protected by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah ,Iraqi Shiite militias, Pakistani , Afghan and the Syrian army . Russia was forced to intervene directly in Syria. Hence, the Russian air raids have become in need to ground forces to secure sites that are cleared by air, and this requires the presence of soldiers on the ground to preserve it, and this role can Iran do.
Here the effects of psychological warfare played its role as air jets Russian controlled the Syrian airspace while Iranian forces dominate the land area of Syria which make it is easier to attack all the Syrian opposition, which strengthens and enhances Iran and Russia attitude to negotiate and confront their regional opponents “Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.” and international ones, “the United States, and the European Union” in the event of acceptance of the two sides negotiating track as an input to solve the Syrian crisis. Hence, we can say , through the Russian air facts and Iranian a ground ones , they can achieve the greatest possible gains from the geo-strategy in Syria
The Iranian shift can be read in the context of pre-emptive move to preserve its interests and its divisional project in Syria. This reading is based on the Iran’s fear of the loss of the geographic Syria’s Assad after all the physical , military and security support provided to him , with the help of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who put the Iraqi Central Bank at the disposal of Iran since the early days of the Syrian uprising that erupted in mid-March / March 2011.
Iran is well aware of the dissatisfaction with Russia on the urgency to sign a nuclear agreement with the United States, as awarded it a distinguished diplomacy while Russia see it very early , and a Russian response could be after a military intervention in Syria is to deprive Iran of its positions in Syria in the post Bashar al-Assad . Therefore , Iran has to take a preventive step to change the track and field moves militarily and orientation towards the west of Iraq to open a land route to join and link Iran to the western province of Iraq, which link to the Damascus , Zabadani then towards Lebanon.
In other words, Iran wants to maintain, in the event of a settlement or any division of Syria, on the corridor to reach its allie Hezbollah in Lebanon, and keep her a foothold on the shores of the Mediterranean. So by this move to have a home foot on the shores of the Mediterranean to transport Iranian gas after the nuclear deal to the capitals of Western countries. If this thing has been achieved it will keep a distance between Iran and Russia because Russia would lose the one of the most important papers in dealing with Western countries, a paper energy.
So we can say,, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon represent regional priorities for Iran .Iraq is to be considered more than a first priority expressed by some Iranian politicians in symbolic way, when they say that Baghdad is the capital of their empire. So to call back the Iraqi Brigade known Brigade, “Abu al Fadl al Abbas” from Damascus, and send it to Iraq, immediately after the takeover of Mosul by the organization of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant “Daash” in June of last year , It is a new evidence that confirms what is certain.
And if we know that the presence of Iran in Lebanon is linked to its influence in Syria, and we understood the importance of Hezbollah, and its eagerness to support its capabilities, the answer seems to question about the regional priorities for her is clear , then Syria is the priority that comes second only to Iraq. Lebanon is the other face of this priority. Iran has to maintain its influence in the two states or to lose them at the same time. It is no secret that the presence in Syria is the most important factors in continuing influence in Lebanon , depending on the political power of Hezbollah .Its Lebanese ally obtain the force from the possession of the weapon that Iran sends him through Syria ,so if Iran lost the Syrian crossing , it wuld lose Lebanon, or almost.
We conclude by saying that it is difficult to read these political developments such as the direct military Russian intervention in the raging Syrian crisis and the Iranian shift in the field in Iraq away from the day following the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community (five plus one one), there is no doubt that this t effect will impose its shadow on the relationship between the United States and between the Republic of Iran on one side, and between Russia and the Iranian Republic on the other. Form those relationships would be an indication of the nature of the Iranian political towards Syria, and whether it will change gradually or totally , or that it will maintain its course and its premises pursued during the past five years.
This means will bring more anger at the level of Arab public opinion, and at the level of Arab governments, and this harmony in this position did not happen and arrived in this form and strength since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. This change has been affected, without doubt, by the sectarian political space that hangs over the Middle East since the US occupation of Iraq in 2003, which seems difficult to exonerate Iran from playing a role in waging it in the service of its divisional project in the Arab east.
Muammar Faisal Kholi
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies