Iran gives public show of backing for Assad regime conflict with Kurds as well as opposition
Iran has signalled its support for the Assad regime’s effort to reclaim all of Syria, confronting Kurdish and opposition groups as well as their supporters such as the US and Turkey.
The Supreme Leader’s top aide, Ali Abkar Velayati, saw Assad in Damascus on Tuesday. Iranian State media put out the line, quoting Assad:
The victories against terrorist organizations, which started in Aleppo [in northwest Syria] and will not end in Deir ez-Zor [in the east], have foiled plans to partition the country and prevented terrorists from achieving their goals.
The Syrian leader indicated that he would block Kurdish efforts for autonomy and recapture opposition-held areas, declaring the 80-month conflict will continue until full “recovery of security and stability to all Syrian lands”. He implicitly challenged the US, which is supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and Turkey — which has assisted rebels in taking control of parts of northern Syria — by calling them “illegal invaders”.
Iranian media were more cautious in framing Velayati’s remarks, limiting them to “today, the enemies of the resistance front are at their weakest compared to the past”. There were no specific references to the Kurds, the Syrian opposition, the US, or Turkey.
However, last Friday the Supreme Leader’s aide offered Iran’s first public support of a campaign to regain territory from Kurdish forces: “We will witness in the near future the advance of government and popular forces in Syria and east of the Euphrates, and the liberation of Raqqa city,” fully captured by the SDF from the Islamic State in early October after a four-month offensive.
Russia, the other main backer of the Assad regime, has not offered its backing so far for any military campaign against the Kurdish and opposition areas. Instead, Moscow has promoted “de-escalation zones” throughout Syria, accompanying the political talks in the Kazakh capital Astana.
Iran formally joined Russia and Turkey in the declaration of the zones but has been hesitant in any support, instead backing the Assad regime’s criticisms of Ankara.
Iran Economic Hopes With Oil Back Above $60/Barrel
Iranian officials have expressed hopes for economic recovery, as the global price of oil passed $60 per barrel on Tuesday.
The official State news agency IRNA said,”Iran’s oil production is about 3.9 million barrels a day, including the 2.2 million barrels exported,” the level maintained since implementation of the nuclear deal in 2016 and a 40% rise above the pre-agreement level.
Iran lost more than 50% of oil revenues in recent years as oil dropped from a high of about $120/barrel to as low as $27/barrel.
Tehran is still facing challenges in the revival of its oil and gas sector, with Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh estimated that $200 billion in investment is needed. Amid ongoing US sanctions and pressure, Iran has announced only one major deal, a $4.8 billion contract with France’s Total, and that has been stalled because of the French company’s concern over new American restrictions.