A newly released sensitive US diplomatic cable unveiled on Tuesday was based on information from Syrian observers who said Syria’s renewed relations with Saudi Arabia, its deepening ties to Turkey, and even Washington’s desire to re-engage Syria had made Iran “jealous.”
The cable says many Syrian and some diplomatic observers believe Syria is in the process of recalibrating its relations with Iran and is seeking to avoid choices that would constrain its flexibility as it faces an uncertain regional setting. The cable said some analysts in Syria argue that Syria’s improved relations with Turkey, France and Saudi Arabia afford Damascus a greater range of choices in dealing with the West, the Arab world, Israel and Iran.
“Even if Damascus and Tehran maintained some semblance of their political-military relationship, the extent of their ties would be constrained by Syria’s competing equities in deepening relations with others, including the US,” the cable said.
The cable claimed that the successive visits of three high-level Iranian officials to Damascus in early December appear at first glance to reaffirm strong Iranian-Syrian security ties and other forms of bilateral cooperation, but they may, in fact, mask deepening rifts over Iraq and Yemen and the possibility of war with Israel.
Syrian observers suggest the a shifting balance of power between Iran and Syria, and the Iranian government, challenged domestically by anti-regime protests and abroad by building pressure over its nuclear program, has sought Syria’s help just when Syria has begun to enjoy other strategic options, such as its relations with Turkey and Saudi Arabia.