The South Syria Deal: Two Years Later

(Center for Global Policy) Ibrahim Hamidi - Two years have passed since a U.S.-Russian understanding with Jordan's and Israel's blessings allowed government forces to take control of the countrysides of Daraa and Quneitra in southwestern Syria. Daraa-based opposition forces had to surrender, while "non-Syrian elements" (a euphemism for pro-Iran militias) were removed from the Jordan and Golan borders. Two years later, Jordan is still unable to relocate refugees in large numbers, and Iran's continued presence is prompting Israeli airstrikes. The U.S.-Russian agreement failed to completely keep Iranian forces away from the Jordanian or Israeli borders. Iran may have withdrawn its non-Syrian militias, but it is consolidating its presence by enlisting Syrian militias to keep the pressure on Israel. At the same time, a quiet struggle over South Syria is being played out via two proxy forces in the Syrian military: the Iranian-leaning 4th Division and the Russian-backed 5th Corps, with repeated attempts by each side to take full control. Moreover, Iran has long sought to install cells in the Golan, coupled with Hizbullah taking over al-Hadar in the Quneitra countryside. The writer, a Syrian journalist and senior diplomatic editor at Asharq Al-Awsat, was in the Damascus bureau of Al-Hayat for 22 years.

2020-09-24 00:00:00

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