Ever since NATO’s decision to deploy Patriot missiles to the Turkish-Syrian border, Iran has been claiming that the missiles are not there to protect Turkey from the Syrian threat but rather to turn Iran into an easy target. Almost everyday, Iran has been warning of the danger of these missiles, claiming they are a threat to the entire Middle East.
On Saturday, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted Iran’s defense minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, as saying that the installation of the Patriot air defense missiles, which NATO claims is to defend Turkish territory from neighboring Syria, will only harm Turkey’s security.
The minister did not clarify what he actually meant, but he stressed that Western countries have always sought to guarantee their own interests. He added: “We are against the presence of Western countries in regional interactions.”
At the same time, Vahidi denied that his own country is providing troops and arms to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defeat the armed opposition forces.
“Syria has no need for the training of its forces by the Revolutionary Guard of Iran, because Syria has a powerful military that has prepared itself for involvement with the Zionist regime,” Vahidi said.
The international community has accused Iran, which has supported the Assad regime since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011, of supplying weapons and expertise to the Syrian army.
Last September, Iran’s Al Alam TV reported that the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Mohammad
Later, the spokesman for Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ramin Mehmanparast, stressed that there is no Iranian military presence in the region, especially not in Syria.
Meanwhile, NATO said in a statement that the deployment of Patriot ground-to-air missile batteries in Turkey was a defensive step only and that it would not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.
All six Patriot batteries provided by the US, Germany and Netherlands will be under NATO command and control and are scheduled to be operational near the Turkish-Syria border by the end of January 2013, according to NATO’s statement.
As I previously mentioned, Iran feels that the Patriot missiles were also deployed as a measure against Iranian missiles. For this, the Iranian reaction varies from condemnation and warning. Besides, Iran announced that it would stage naval war games in the Strait of Hormuz in order to test new military systems and practice new military tactics.
I neither deny nor confirm that Iran’s fears are true. The Syrian army cannot, at this time, fight the armed opposition, so how can we expect the regime to carry out a war on Turkey in retaliation to its support for the Free Syrian Army?
Of course, America and Turkey know the Syrian threat will not exceed firing tank shells or mortar, which could, by mistake, fall into Turkish territories.
What is happening on the Turkish-Syrian border is the same scenario that is happening on the Israeli-Syrian border, so the question is: why not deploy Patriot missiles over there?
I think this matter is very clear for the Iranians, therefore I tend to believe that the monument of missiles is meant to target Iran. Hitting Iran would be in Israel’s and Turkey’s interest, as Turkey is worried from the opposition strikes and arming provided by the Iranian regime.
As for Iran’s defense minister, who denies supporting the Syrian regime, please note that anyone who goes to Damascus might think himself in Tehran due to the large number of Iranians there, whether businessmen or army officers. This was popular before the revolution.
Nowadays, Iranian militants andelements are present along with the elements of the Iraqi Mahdi militia. This is all for ideological reasons because if the Alawite regime should fall, they understand that it would mean the fall of the other systems in the region too, or at least support will stop for the Shiites in the Middle East and pave the way for the Muslim Brotherhood.