June 04, 2018

The Pro-Assad Alliance Is Coming Apart

By Ilan Goldenberg and Nicholas Heras

In a May 21 speech on U.S. strategy following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo struck a tough tone, promising to confront Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its multinational Shiite militia networks throughout the Middle East. But strong words have yet to be matched with action. For years, the United States has struggled to come up with a strategy for containing and eventually rolling back Iranian influence in Syria, the most hotly contested battlefield in the Middle East.

That may be about to change, thanks to an emerging fracture in the alliance backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On one side of the divide is Iran, which seeks to consolidate its gains in Syria in order to apply military pressure on Israel. On the other side are the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Russia, all of which fear a major conflict with Israel that could undermine what they have fought for in the Levant over the past decade. These divisions may finally provide Washington with the opportunity it has been seeking to check Tehran’s ambitions in Syria.

COMING APART

Assad’s position today is as strong as it has been since 2012, when Syria’s armed opposition first started gaining momentum. Over the past two years, the regime and its allies have made significant territorial gains, especially in the strategic areas in and around the capital of Damascus and in the last pocket of rebel rule in Homs Province. Assad’s opponents lack either the will or the capability to stop him from slowly winning the war.


Read the Full Article at Foreign Affairs

  • Podcast
    • January 17, 2020
    Stories from the Backchannel: Season Two Trailer

    Now more than ever, Americans are interested in the people working behind the scenes on consequential national security decisions. In Season Two of Stories from the Backchanne...

    By Ilan Goldenberg, Richard Fontaine, Susanna V. Blume, Kayla M. Williams, Price B. Floyd, Kurt Campbell & Kara Frederick

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • January 17, 2020
    Sending Troops Back to the Middle East Won’t Stop Iran

    The Trump administration’s decision to kill Qassam Soleimani is the latest in an escalatory “maximum pressure” Iran strategy that is shifting American foreign policy attention...

    By Chris Dougherty & Kaleigh Thomas

  • Podcast
    • January 17, 2020
    US Targeted Killing of Qassem Soleimani: Strategic Implications

    Brian Katulis and Kaleigh Thomas discuss the political and strategic fallout from the US targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Listen to the full conversation...

    By Kaleigh Thomas

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • January 14, 2020
    Trump Has Made Sanctions a Path to Strikes

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to kill the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, the architect of Iran’s political and military influence in the Middle East, and the Irani...

    By Elizabeth Rosenberg & ​Neil Bhatiya

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia