Iranians Calling the Shots in Syria

(Washington Post) Hugh Naylor - Forces battling for control of three Syrian towns were observing a temporary cease-fire Thursday after a push by Iran to explore diplomatic solutions to end Syria's civil war. The truce was a product of talks in Turkey between Iranian officials and Ahrar al-Sham, a Syrian rebel group. Iran negotiated on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad's government. "These negotiations with Iran show that the Iranians are calling the shots, 100 percent, in Syria," said former Syrian diplomat Bassam Barabandi. On Wednesday, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, visited Syria for talks with Assad. The diplomatic initiative reflects fatigue among Assad's allies in the four-year-old conflict. It also may reflect a growing recognition by Hizbullah and Iran that Syria's rebels cannot be defeated militarily and, in particular, that Hizbullah cannot sustain its engagement in Syria indefinitely. The group has suffered significant losses in recent fighting. "As Hizbullah deaths mount, it becomes ever clearer that Shiites and Alawites are too few to hold the line against Sunni-Salafist rebel groups that are becoming ever more lethal, organized and well-armed," said Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma's Center for Middle East Studies.

2015-08-14 00:00:00

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