President Donald Trump’s January 25 remark that he "will absolutely do safe zones in Syria" has prompted worries in Tehran. In a meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Tehran yesterday, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani warned that Washington’s plan, if implemented, would lead to Syria’s disintegration. “If some parties constantly pursue the exclusion of Syria’s legitimate president and the creation of a power vacuum in the country, or take steps to divide the country by plans such as setting up safe or buffer zones, they will actively strengthen terrorism and prolong the crisis in the region,” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative to SNSC said.
The U.S. president’s comment has also generated a great deal of discussion in the Iranian media about the feasibility and ramifications of such a plan in the Iranian media. A Press TV report cautioned that the execution of such a plan could trigger a confrontation between the United States and the Russian and Syrian forces. Tabnak, an outlet run by former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) chief commander Mohsen Rezaei, wrote that the implementation of safe zones in Syria would be difficult and risky because it would require thousands of U.S. troops on the ground. It further noted that divergent interests of regional countries would also hinder a successful enforcement of the plan.