U.S. Signaling Intention to Roll Back Iranian Influence, in Syria and Elsewhere

(Christian Science Monitor) Nicholas Blanford - Having successfully propped up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for more than six years, Iran appears to be preparing the ground for a long-term presence in the country, causing rising alarm in neighboring Israel and garnering the attention of Washington. Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buttress Syria's economy, oversees a multi-national Shiite militia force to bolster Assad's flagging army, and trains Syrian militia networks based on Iran's Basij paramilitary volunteer force. But Iran's expanding reach into Syria has made the country potentially a key arena if the U.S. wants to undermine Iran's regional stance, analysts say. As a consequence, President Trump's administration has signaled an intention to roll back the Islamic Republic's influence, not only in Syria but elsewhere in the region. "The best strategy to roll back Iranian influence is to weaken it in Syria by denying it the resources it has invested in through the Assad regime," said Randa Slim, an expert on Hizbullah at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. "Syria anchors the Iran-Syria-Iraq-Hizbullah axis. Denying Iran that anchor will roll back its influence not only in Lebanon and weaken Hizbullah but in the whole region."

2017-03-17 00:00:00

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