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Tehran Sends Aid to Damascus

Iran is raising the stakes in the Syrian conflict. The Wall Street Journal:

Iran is sending commanders from its elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and hundreds of foot soldiers to Syria, according to current and former members of the corps.

The personnel moves come on top of what these people say are Tehran’s stepped-up efforts to aid the military of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with cash and arms. That would indicate that regional capitals are being drawn deeper into Syria’s conflict—and undergird a growing perception among Mr. Assad’s opponents that the regime’s military is increasingly strained.

If Iran really does put large numbers of troops into Syria, the Syrian civil war will become a truly international affair. Countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia will lose inhibitions about aiding the rebels more openly and directly if the government is being backed by fighters from Iran.

Armed Iranian support for Assad could also change the calculation for the United States. Intervening in a domestic civil war in Syria is one thing. Defeating Iran’s attempts to dominate a neighbor is something else. Iran should think long and hard about this next step.

Paradoxically, the more openly Iran intervenes in Syria, the more humiliation it will encounter if Assad does fall. And the more it intervenes in Syria, the likelier it is that an international armed coalition will ensure that the Syrian dictator goes down.

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  • Eric J.

    I’m not sure I see much of a downside right now. This seems to be acting as a variation of the “flypaper” strategy (or side-effect) in Iraq, but without American troops in harm’s way- we’re getting Al Quaeda fighting the Revolutionary Guard over a patch of land that doesn’t even have much oil.

    It would be foolishness to believe that even if we backed a winning group of rebels in Syria and minimized Jihadi influence on the new government, that we’d get much gratitude or show any ability to influence New Syrian policy or attitudes.

  • Eurydice

    Referring back to the earlier post criticizing the president’s “serene amorality” regarding Syria – perhaps this Iranian involvement has something to do with it.

  • John Barker

    “international armed coalition” is that code for US Marines and soldiers at the sharp end with an international force of truck drivers.

  • bill phelps

    The conflict is already an regional war. Iran’s involvement is just becoming more evident. I expect Turkey will not accept an Iranian province on its southern border, especially when the southern border is open, not mountainous as is its eastern border with Iran.

  • Nathan

    John Barker @3 – It’s not *quite* that bad, but it usually feels close to it. Even the Libyan “lead from behind” action didn’t seem very “behind” after a while.

  • Nathan

    At the same time, we shouldn’t diminish the very real sacrifices that our allies have suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. We really aren’t the only fighting troops in the coalition, though it can feel that way at times.

  • Sam L.

    OK, let’s add a lot of kindling on this fire before the big stuff goes in. Ah, the peaceful middle east.

  • Lyle Smith

    The Iranian government seems to be stuck on stupid at the moment.

  • Armando

    “The Iranian government seems to be stuck on stupid at the moment.”

    And I, for one, hope they STAY stuck on stupid.

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