When will Iran abandon Bashar al-Assad?
Iran is undoubtedly the most important ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Without Iran, Assad would have been toppled years ago. The Iranian regime has backed Assad politically by maintaining its unequivocal red line, that Assad should not be forced to renounce his position in any transitional period.
It also backed him militarily by supplying him with arsenal and financial support that has kept him in power. The conventional wisdom says that it would be really hard for Iran to relinquish its buddy in Syria, and yet, looking at it from a more pragmatic standpoint, Iran would surely bet on several horses and is almost certainly setting the preliminaries for a post-Assad Syria.
There are three possible scenarios that would compel Tehran to finally abandon Assad.
Reshuffle in Russia’s policy
The first and most imminent scenario is when Russia decides to reshuffle its own strategy in Syria. The interventionist policy of Russia, Iran’s main ally, was theoretically a game-changing development in favour of Iran’s ambitions in the region.
Nevertheless, this resulted in threatening Iran’s monopolistic vision in Syria. Recently, Russia seems to have the upper hand in the political decision-making process that may eventually jeopardise key Iranian interests..
On the other hand, Russia-Turkey relations are gradually back on track. Russia and Turkey are major players with contradictory perspectives over the Syrian conflict. Russia has militarily backed Assad and helped him stay in power; while Turkey has supported rebel groups to overthrow Assad.
Recently when Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin met in St Petersburg to patch up their nine-month feud in the aftermath of the Russian jet crisis, one question was finding a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Unfortunately, recent developments in Aleppo exposed the two leaders’ failure to narrow their fundamental differences to find common ground for a political solution.
Despite the disagreement, there is still a serious chance to reach a consensus. Putin is expected to visit Turkey this month with the aim of restoring business ties, but primarily to discuss the Syrian war.
The trajectory of Turkey’s foreign policy recorded substantial shifts that will soon show a drastic change in its alliances. Obama’s administration repeatedly disregarded Turkey’s regional perspectives and urged Turkey to move unilaterally to protect its strategic interests.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights