Not long ago Via Meadia discussed the possibility of an internationalization of the Syria crisis, with Turkey and Iran being the chief belligerents. Events this week are edging closer to a wider Middle East war amid the crumbling wreckage of the Levant:
First, on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan declared his government’s willingness to invade Syria to crush what might otherwise become a new haven for Turkey’s homegrown terror group, the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). According to Zaman, Butcher Assad has released from prison 1,200 PKK members and thousands more with connections to the outfit in the hopes of manipulating the different power factions and consituents in Syria:
“These people [will then move] to the Kurdish region in Syria. They are acting together with the Syrian administration,” [Homs rebel spokesman Khaled Abu Saleh] told Today’s Zaman.
According to Saleh, Assad is winning the support of the Kurds by promising to help them establish a Kurdish state. “In this way, he hopes that the Kurds will not become enemies to him. On the other hand, he tries to win the support of Turkmens and Arabs, saying they will have to live under the control of the Kurds if he is removed from office.”
Next, a top Iranian general responded to these overtures with a snarl, warning Turkey that if it justified a cross-border adventure it should expect to be the next victim of one:
“This is not an appropriate precedent, that neighboring countries of Syria contribute to the belligerent purposes of the Great Satan, the United States. If these countries have accepted such a precedent, they must be aware that after Syria, it will be the turn of Turkey and other countries,” [Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi] reportedly said.
Firouzabadi added that Iran fears “Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have become victims of promoting the terrorism of al-Qaeda and we warn our friends about this.”
The Iranians know that their regional influence is tied to Assad, and that they must either do damage control or lend even more forward military support to the embattled Syrian regime if they don’t want to see their sphere of influence shrink considerably. Turkey, in addition to having genuine counterterrorism motives, is also beginning to enjoy flexing its muscles as the presumptive new hegemon in the region.
With both sides casting the other as a supporter of “terrorism,” the gates are wide open for even hotter rhetoric—and possibly actions to back it up.