Islamic State's Wane Sets the Stage for Regional Superpower Iran

(Times of Israel) Avi Issacharoff - Iran is looking more and more like the big winner of the Arab Spring. The Shiite crescent, which King Abdullah of Jordan warned about, is amassing unprecedented power even without possessing an atomic bomb. Iran is in control of swaths of territory running from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea; it has taken control of Iraq and is expelling Islamic State from there using Shiite militias under its command. The Hebrew-language Walla news site reported this week that Iran has been paving a "trans-Iraq" highway from Iran to Syria. Iran operates a cellular franchise throughout Iraq, and is working to build a port in Latakia, Syria. The proposal states that Iran will lease land for fifty years for a port that would be under Iranian sovereignty, and the Syrians would have no access to it, like the naval base that the Russians established in Tartus. Roughly 1,300 to 1,500 Iranians - combat soldiers, intelligence personnel, members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, logistics personnel - currently operate in Syria. In addition, there are 7,000-10,000 Iranian-funded Shiite fighters and another 8,000 Hizbullah Shiite fighters on Syrian soil who take orders from Tehran.

2017-03-21 00:00:00

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