Who Will Dominate the Post-Islamic State Landscape in Iraq and Syria?

(Jerusalem Post) Jonathan Spyer - While the tactical contests are continuing, the general direction of events in both the war against Islamic State and the fight between Assad and the rebels is now clear. Islamic State is on its way to ceasing to exist as an entity controlling significant territory. Having lost tens of thousands of fighters and with the flow of recruits drying up, facing enemies with complete control of the skies and vast superiority in numbers and equipment, Islamic State has no means of reversing the trend. Moreover, the rebellion against Assad is in retreat, and its eventual eclipse seems a near certainty. As the direction of events becomes clear, so the possibility emerges of the Iran-led alliance achieving an overall victory in the Syria and Iraq wars. Assad's own forces are entirely dependent for advances on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hizbullah, Iraqi Shi'a militia forces and paramilitary formations created by the Iranians. That is, the real power would be Iran-arranged forces on the ground. Yet advances for the Iranian side are possible only with the support of Russian air power. And Russian goals in Syria do not necessarily dovetail with Tehran's. The writer is Director of the Rubin Center, IDC Herzliya, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

2017-03-13 00:00:00

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