For Iran, the Turkish Invasion of Syria Is a Mixed Blessing

Since the Syrian civil war began, Tehran has firmly supported Bashar al-Assad while Ankara has aided those fighting against him. Thus, the Iranian president’s recent condemnation of the Turkish incursion into Syrian Kurdistan should come as no surprise. Yet, argues Doron Itzchakov, while Turkey is now helping Sunni Islamist groups seen by Iran as a threat, the two country’s interests are not entirely at odds:

Tehran does not want to risk its relationship with Ankara, which allows it to circumvent U.S. sanctions and constitutes an essential channel for the supply of Iranian gas to major European countries. . . . Kurdish national aspirations, [moreover], pose significant challenges to all four countries that contain large Kurdish populations, [of which Iran is one]. The precedent of a Kurdish autonomous territory in Syria is unacceptable to the Iranian establishment, which remembers the uprising that led to the establishment of [a short-lived Kurdish polity in Iran] in January 1946. . . .

[In fact], the Turkish offensive could advance Iranian interests. . . . The [recently concluded] defense agreement between the Kurds and the Assad regime, enabling the deployment of Syrian military forces in Syrian Kurdistan, will whet Iran’s appetite and prompt its Revolutionary Guards and their subordinate militias to consolidate their presence in northern Syria, with Assad’s approval. As has happened before, Iranian troops will be disguised by Syrian army uniforms.

The Iranian regime [also] has high hopes that the international community will turn its eyes to Turkish aggression. A global focus on Ankara’s actions will divert attention from Tehran’s attempt to expand its [own] strategic depth, as did the world’s attention to the problem of fighting Islamic State. . . . Iran is likely to make extensive use of the Turkish incursion into northern Syria to expand its hold on the region, with the aim of threatening Israel’s border.

Tehran’s condemnations of the Turkish invasion thus look like mere lip service, as the revolutionary regime may well benefit from the new situation created by the U.S. withdrawal. . . . For Israel, by contrast, this is a zero-sum game, because the promotion of Iranian interests is an inherent threat. Israel should prepare itself for challenges to come.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Hassan Rouhani, Iran, Israeli Security, Kurds, Syrian civil war, Turkey


An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security