Interview: Cross-Border Attack on Syria Raises Iranian Eyebrows
Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewee: Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Former Adviser to Iran's Nuclear Negotiating Team
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org
October 30, 2008
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, an analyst who advised Iran's nuclear negotiating team in 2004-2005, says Iran sees the reported U.S. cross-border incursion from Iraq into Syria as further reason for the pending U.S.-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement to expressly forbid the United States from using Iraqi territory to attack another country. Currently, the draft only prohibits "offensive" operations. Afrasiabi says: "I think that while there has been concern in Iran that this might be an indirect jab or a warning shot on a nuclear Tehran, the U.S.'s incursion in Syria, a major ally of Iran, is also a cause of concern for Iran because for one thing, the United States is now appearing to Iran more rogue or arrogant in the region."
Over the last weekend, U.S. Special Forces went over the Syrian border from Iraq and reportedly killed an Iraqi associated with al-Qaeda. This spurred a furious reaction from Damascus, but also one from Iran. Are the Iranians concerned that the United States might attack Shite militia training bases in Iran?
From Iran's vantage point, the U.S. incursion is unacceptable, and Tehran is unconvinced by the United States official explanation of the raid and has interpered it mainly in the context of U.S. tactical moves with respect to the contentious pending Status of Forces security agreement with Iraq, with time running out on the Bush administration to claim this as a legacy. I think that while there has been concern in Iran that this might be an indirect jab or a warning shot on a nuclear Tehran, the U.S.'s incursion in Syria, a major ally of Iran, is also a cause of concern for Iran because for one thing, the United States is now appearing to Iran more rogue or arrogant in the region.
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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.
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