Turkey, Iran and Russia unite to slam US oil deal in Syria

Iran, Turkey and Russia are part of the Astana process and they frequently discuss Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad visits Syrian army troops in war-torn northwestern Idlib province, Syria, October 22, 2019 (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Syrian President Bashar al Assad visits Syrian army troops in war-torn northwestern Idlib province, Syria, October 22, 2019
Turkey, Russia and Iran reaffirmed their commitment to Syrian “sovereignty” on August 26 and slammed an oil deal a US company allegedly has with American-backed partners in eastern Syria.
Iranian-backed cells are trying to infiltrate tribal groups near Deir ez-Zor to pressure the US, a Russian patrol collided with a US patrol last week, and Turkey continues to threaten the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Turkey, Russia and Iran are part of the Astana Process, and they frequently discuss Syria while sidelining the US.
In August, the three countries issued a statement that “expressed their opposition to the illegal seizure and transfer of Syria’s oil revenues,” the daily newspaper Sabah reported. They also “condemned the illegal oil deal between a US-licensed company and the illegitimate entity as part of its separatist agenda.”
The US has worked with the SDF since 2015. However, Turkey claims the SDF is linked to a group called the People’s Protection Units and that both are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party. Therefore, Turkey calls them all “terrorists,” even though there is no evidence of any terrorist attacks against Turkey by the SDF.
Turkey has used this as an excuse to invade Kurdish areas of Syria, ethnically cleansing Afrin in 2018 by backing Syrian rebel extremist groups. Last October, Turkey threatened US forces and ordered the Trump administration to leave Syria.
Then Turkey attacked Tel Abyad, and Turkish-backed groups murdered Syrian Kurdish activists, including Hevrin Khalaf. Since then, Turkish-backed groups have kidnapped and killed numerous women, forcing Yazidis and Christians to flee.
Now, Turkey, Iran and Russia are working closely to pressure the US. While the Trump administration wants to secure the oil in Syria and the Pentagon wants to continue to keep ISIS defeated, Ankara and its Iranian and Russian allies seek to undermine the US. Iran has agreed to take the Deir ez-Zor file and pressure the US along the Euphrates, while Turkey does the same in Tel Abyad by cutting off water to SDF-controlled areas, and Russia uses patrols to harass the US.
Turkey cuts off the water at the Allouk water station and carries out drone strikes to harass areas where the SDF is present. Meanwhile, it also sends intelligence agents to try to smuggle people out of al-Hol refugee camp, where some ISIS-affiliated families live.
The Iranian role in Deir ez-Zor – seeking to use tribes to undermine the SDF – was reported by Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on August 27. Iran has bases from Albu Kamal to al-Mayadeen in Syria, where its affiliates – including Shi’ites from Pakistan and local recruits – operate.
It can use these to stir up trouble across the Euphrates. Russian-backed mercenaries also operated here, attacking the SDF in February 2018. A Russian officer was recently killed by ISIS on the Syrian regime’s side of the river. The entire area appears to be insecure and unstable. Iran exploits this.
Slamming the US oil deal is just the latest way that Iran, Turkey and Russia seek to work together. They don’t agree on other issues in Syria. For instance, Russia and Turkey conduct joint patrols in Idlib, but Russia backs the Syrian regime, and Turkey backs Syrian rebels.
Turkey has sent Syrian rebels to fight in Libya in the last six months to keep them from focusing on Syria and Turkey’s mutual work with Russia in Syria.