By Dr Jan Best de Vries:
On Syrian soil Turkish tanks are deployed. The question is who is going to stop these and how. On the ground Islamic State (IS) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are Mr Erdogan’s proclaimed targets but the SDF is unlikely to have enough anti-tank missiles to deal with them all and, from a military point of view, suicidal attacks against tanks with Molotov cocktails are not recommended. Mr Assad’s ally on the ground Hezbollah has won amongst the population of Syria a reputation for rape, but not for suicide. So who could do the job from the air? One would suppose the Syrian regime, it still being in charge, but this is bound to its ally Mr Putin who in Moscow has promised Mr Erdogan that he will not allow Mr Assad to do so. Mr Obama overplayed his hand by supporting Mr Erdogan and not his allies of the SDF on the ground, so for these the American adventure is over and west of the Euphrates they even run, in close company with IS, the risk of being bombed by ‘the coalition’. Thus there remains only, as Mr Assad’s last ally, Iran, whose elite corps of the Pasdaran already fights for him on the ground and whose air base near Hamadan may be used by the Russians in the battle of Syria. Iran is an interesting candidate because it gave permission to the Russians to use their air base, so they can’t give orders to the regime of Iran like they can do to Mr Assad…
Now what’s in it for Iran to eliminate Turkish tanks in Syria? A lot. By so doing, Iran would prove that not Salafist Sunnite Saudi Arabia or the likewise Salafist Sunnite Turkey is the dominant power in West Asia, but rather Shiite Iran which as a true ally coming to the rescue of the Shiite regime of Syria in order to protect Syria’s territorial inviolability. Moreover, Iran would then clearly show its independence from both Russia and the USA. However, the most important gain for Iran would be that, after the end of the international war in Syria, huge pipelines could be laid from Khuzestan via the Shiite, southern part of Iraq through Syria directly to the Mediterranean. From the ports on its coast Iranian, oil, after being refined in Syria, may then be shipped all over the world.
By the way, when pipelines would be laid from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan (Bashur) through Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) and Syrian Hatay to the Mediterranean, Iraq and Syria would not be dependent anymore on transportation of their oil and gas through a belligerent Turkey.
Dr. Jan Best de Vries is an archaeologist and historian, decipherer of the so-called Byblos Script from Aleppo and Alalakh (‘How to Decipher the Byblos Script’, Aspekt Publishers 2014, ISBN978-946-153-420-0)