A New Order Emerges in Southern Syria as Assad Regains Control

(Jerusalem Post) Jonathan Spyer - The Assad regime has begun to settle accounts with former rebels insouthwest Syria who worked with Israel during the years that this area was outside of regime control. 23 former rebel commanders and opposition activists in Deraa and Quneitra provinces have been detained or have disappeared after being apprehended by regime forces in recent weeks. The emergent reality in Syria's south is one in which it is difficult to discern where precisely the Syrian state ends and Iran and its allies begin. By the end of 2011, the Syrian regime had lost control of the greater part of both provinces and in the subsequent six years, a flourishing post-regime reality came into being as the West sought to aid the development of rudimentary civil society structures to replace those of the Assad regime. All this came abruptly to an end by July 2018. A recent report on the Syrian Observer website provided details of a large Iranian base under construction by the Iraqi militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Hizbullah in the Lajat area of Deraa province. Evidence is also emerging of the presence of Hizbullah personnel and other pro-Iranian Shia militiamen in Syrian Arab Army uniforms among regime forces returning to the border area with the Golan Heights. This is despite the nominal Russian commitment to keep such elements at least 85 kms. from the border. The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies and the Middle East Forum.

2018-12-03 00:00:00

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