The Syria Project

The Syria Project

Syria

The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011. Years later, with hundreds of thousands dead, no end appears in sight. Multiple diplomatic conferences and ceasefire agreements have failed to achieve a resolution or anything more than a temporary lull in the fighting.

In its first two years, the conflict was a relatively straightforward contest between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces under the banner of the Free Syrian Army. As the war continued, outside actors interested in either propping up or toppling the Syrian ruler entered the fray, transforming the country into a battlefield for larger international conflicts.

Hezbollah openly declared its military presence in 2013, intent on swinging the tide of battle in Assad’s favor. It was joined by a host of other Iranian proxy militias – Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and others – and then by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. A host of Sunni Islamist militias appeared in response, either splintering off from the FSA or coming from abroad.

The most important of these is Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra), an al-Qaeda affiliated group. The Islamic State, formerly confined to Iraq, entered Syria in 2014 and seized large swathes of territory, establishing its de facto capital in Raqqa and declaring war on both rebels and regime loyalists. Russia entered the fight in late 2015, assuring the momentum remained with the regime-led alliance.

Despite predictions of his downfall, the Syrian president has proved surprisingly resilient. The late 2016 conquest of Aleppo was a turning point that definitively swung the tide of battle in his favor. Regime gains, however, have come at huge cost: the Syrian Arab Army is shattered, and Assad’s Syria is a pariah in the Arab world. In the long run, Assad’s dependence on Iran and its proxy militias – which have declared their intent to permanently remain in the country – will serve to erode Syrian sovereignty, perhaps transforming Damascus into another puppet of Tehran.

Does Trump Realize That His New Iran Strategy Could Suffer a Fatal Blow in Syria?

8th November 2017 – Foreign Policy

Does Trump Realize That His New Iran Strategy Could Suffer a Fatal Blow in Syria?

John Hannah

Note to President Trump: The new Iran strategy that you announced just three weeks ago is hanging by a thread. Its fate will likely be decided in the next few months on the Syria-Iraq border. more...

Analysis & Commentary

13th November 2017 – Quoted by Mosaic Magazine

Has Donald Trump Lost Syria to Iran?

John Hannah

Three weeks ago, the White House released an official strategy for checking the Islamic Republic’s growing influence in the Middle East. more...

13th November 2017 – Quoted by Joel Gehrke - The Washington Examiner

Turkey’s Erdogan: US, Russia should leave Syria

Aykan Erdemir

American and Russian military forces should withdraw from Syria, according to the leader of a key NATO ally. more...

25th October 2017 – Quoted by Hollie McKay - Fox News

Rebuilding Raqqa: Should U.S taxpayers pay to rebuild the ruined former ISIS stronghold?

Tony Badran

The fall of the final ISIS stronghold of Raqqa – the terror group’s self-declared caliphate capital – by the Kurdish-led, U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last week has heralded much celebration. more...

20th October 2017 – Quoted by Jeff Daniels - CNBC

CIA director: ISIS still ‘enormous threat’ despite group’s battlefield setbacks

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday said ISIS remains an "enormous threat" despite setbacks the terror group has suffered on the battlefield, including being driven from the group's self-declared capital of Raqqa. more...

From the Hill: