Meir Javedanfar

Will Iran attack Turkey to defend Syria?

Today Turkish forces bombarded positions inside Syrian territory for the second day in a row.

According to AP:

“Although both sides moved to calm tensions, Turkey’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill allowing the military to conduct cross-border operations into Syria — making clear that Ankara has military options that do not involve its Western or Arab allies.”

In the middle of all this melee we should not forget that Iran and Syria have a defense pact which they signed in 2006.The exact details of this pact are not well-known, but at least in one occasion in January 2012 an Iranian official warned that if Syria comes under attack from the US Iran would “act” as part of its 2006 defense pact with Damascus.The question which must now be asked is: now that Syria is officially under attack from Turkey, will Iran come to its rescue by either attacking Turkey or alternatively through an increase in its support for Assad?

The answer in both cases is unlikely. Iran is not in a position to attack Turkey because of Syria. Not now, and almost certainly not ever. Perhaps only in the case of a full unjustified Turkish invasion. I emphasize the word perhaps.

There is also no guarantee that Iran would significantly increase its financial and military aid to Assad. If Assad is to receive anything, it’d be limited. Iran is currently going through a severe financial crisis. More than ever, it needs its dollars at home.

With an economic crisis brewing at home, Syria is likely to drop from Khamenei’s list of priorities, and fast.

About the Author
Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli lecturer, author, and commentator. He has been teaching Iranian politics at Reichman University in Israel since 2012 and is Anti-Defamation League’s Iran consultant.