Driven apart by clashing regional interests, Turkey and Iran appear headed for a face-off in Syria, with Tehran explicitly opposing Ankara’s plan for a fresh military operation against Kurdish-held areas, wary of risks to its own posture in the region.
Turkey has failed to get a green light from the United States to press ahead with the plan, while Russia appears to be stalling. The Iranians, meanwhile, have sent militia reinforcements to two Shiite settlements northwest of Aleppo, not far from a key area in Ankara’s crosshairs, while trying to talk Turkey out from making the move — apparently with little success thus far. The Iranian foreign minister was expected to hold talks in Turkey on June 6, two days before a critical visit by Russia’s foreign minister, but the trip was cancelled due to what the Iranian press described as scheduling problems. An Iranian journalist who closely follows Turkish-Iranian ties told Al-Monitor that Tehran sent a military intelligence official to Ankara to convey its objections. Al-Monitor could not verify the claim independently. The journalist asked to remain anonymous.