Iran’s Struggle to Entrench Itself in Syria
Iran is continually expanding its military, economic and political presence in Syria. Bashar al-Assad’s February 25 visit to Iran was an important marker in these efforts. Assad met with Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, who labeled him the “hero of the Arab world.” The presence of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and
Syria’s Return to the Arab Fold
Arab countries are re-normalizing their relations with the Assad regime, seeking to balance the strong Iranian and Turkish influences in Syria and to achieve some degree of influence in a new Syrian political-strategic structure. This further cements a Russian-oriented strategic architecture in the region. In the long term, this could lead to tensions between conservative Arab states and Israel, if Israel targets the Syrian military and government in the campaign against Iran, or if Israel continues to promote diplomatic recognition of its Golan annexation.
Trump’s Withdrawal from Syria: Not Unexpected and a Victory for the “Astana Three”
The possibility that Iran and Turkey will be emboldened by the American decision, is worrisome. The main counter to that will be robust deterrence from Israel, whose maintenance may increase the likeliness of escalation in Syria and Lebanon, and even more resort to the restraining hand of Russia.
The Murder of Sheikh Bashir Faisal al-Huwaidi in Raqqa
The killing of prominent Arab tribal leader Sheikh Bashir Faisal al-Huwaidi has serious implications for the US and Kurdish administered part of Syria, in which Raqqa is located. That administration of Syria has many enemies and remains fragile.