The Iran Project

Iran, Russia, Turkey close ranks on Syria coordination amid US pressure

Al-Monitor- It wasn’t their chemistry that brought Russia, Iran and Turkey to the table over Syria. Rather it was the intersections of their interests, and as part of this, the common threat of having other powers, such as the United States, playing a role in crafting the future of Syria. Indeed, the trio sees the situation in the war-torn country as an extension of their own national security — each for a different reason, and each wanting to see the outcome of the conflict in line with their own interests. As such, for Russia, Iran and Syria, there was no option but coming together on the basis of their minimum consensus to achieve their objectives.

On some occasions, like the recent US-led attack on Syria on April 13, Ankara was on a completely different page from its northern and eastern neighbors, siding with Washington and showing support for action that was seen by its partners in Moscow and Tehran as aggressive. At the time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said of the strikes, “The Syrian regime received the message that its massacres will not be left unanswered,” saying that he found the US-led move appropriate. Yet Erdogan was also critical that US-led attacks on Syria have been limited to responses to alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime. The Turkish president notably alluded to Damascus’ use of conventional arms, which kill many more people than chemical weapons.

Tehran and Moscow dealt with the Turkish stance in a cold manner, while Ankara showed a willingness to preserve the tripartite coordination despite the differences. Indeed, only hours after the April 13 attacks, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were on the phone, agreeing to “maintain decisiveness to reduce tension on the ground in Syria and continue efforts for a political solution,” Turkey said in a statement. Yet a week later, on April 20, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with Deutsche Welle that Moscow was uncertain about how the situation in Syria will evolve in terms of the country maintaining its territorial integrity.

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