The beginnings of a dynamic are emerging, one as predictable as anything ever was. “Turkey” and “Iran” (in their earlier as well as contemporary incarnations) have jockeyed over the disposition of Syria (and Mesopotamia) for many centuries, and now that the clamps of the post-World War I order have been released, they are going to do so again.
Michael Ledeen initiated a fresh focus on this with a short post late last week, in which he predicted that Iran would soon form a federation with Syria and Iraq, or at least with the nominal central governments that remain to them: an arrangement that would formalize the Iranian military presence for which the mullahs have big plans. Says Ledeen:
[Such a federation] advances Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards to another border, so that Nasrullah and Suleimani cam fulfill Khamenei’s fatwa, ordering the destruction of the Saudi royal family, and advancing Tehran’s strategic objective of bringing down the Hashemite monarchy in Amman.
I agree that Iran has these ends in view. But to Ledeen’s question “Why now?” I would also add that Turkey is making with the preliminary moves on Syria, just at this moment, because of the Syrian Kurds’ recent success in their campaign to push back Islamic State’s territorial holdings between Raqqa and the Turkish border.