Iran's Plan for Syria without Assad

(National Interest) Joyce Karam - On Feb. 25, 1987, the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad sent his troops to the Fathallah barracks in West Beirut, where they killed 27 members of Hizbullah in a move designed to show Syria's upper hand over Iran in Lebanon. Almost three decades later under Assad the son, Tehran has gained the upper hand in Damascus. For Iran, Bashar al-Assad has been a valuable ally but not an indispensable one. Iran is looking beyond Assad to preserving its core interests: Ensuring arms shipments continue to Hizbullah Gaining a strategic foothold in the Levant and against Israel Preventing a stable government opposed to Iran from fully ruling over Syria. Iran is establishing that if Assad falls, it will have enough proxies and presence in Syria to secure its influence and prevent a hostile regime from effectively taking over. Iran's strategy in Syria looks very similar to its playbook in Iraq and Lebanon, where heavily armed and trained nonstate actors are securing Iran's interests. Both the Iraqi and Lebanese models prove that these new militia structures are there to stay and are not bound to UN resolutions or international agreements. This makes the chatter on withdrawal of all militias from Syria a rhetorical fantasy. The writer is the Washington bureau chief for Al-Hayat.

2016-01-01 00:00:00

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