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.

U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Syria Will Fail Without U.S. Leverage

7th August 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Syria Will Fail Without U.S. Leverage

David Adesnik

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated last week that the U.S. has “chosen the theater in Syria as a place in which we test our ability to work together” with the Russians. This strategy is at odds with two core objectives of U.S. policy toward Syria, as defined by Tillerson: the replacement of the Assad regime and the end of “the direct presence of Iranian military forces inside Syria,” including proxies. more...

Analysis & Commentary

16th August 2017 – Seth J. Frantzman - The Jerusalem Post

‘Iran Building Missile Factory In Syria’

Jonathan Schanzer

Report showing construction is ‘significant development’ that poses dilemma for Israel’s response. more...

16th August 2017 – Quoted by The Tower

Report: Iran Smuggling Weapons to Syria in Violation of UN Resolution

Iran is shipping arms to Russia via a smuggling route into Syria, which would violate the terms of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, which implemented the 2015 nuclear deal, according to Western intelligence agencies. more...

11th August 2017 – Quoted by Alex Rowell - The Daily Beast

Hezbollah Sucks the U.S. Into Its Own War on ISIS

Tony Badran

The Pentagon says it’s absolutely opposed to cooperation with terrorist-branded Hezbollah, but Hezbollah’s leader says the facts on the ground speak for themselves. more...

8th August 2017 – Quoted by Tim Hume and Nick Miriello - VICE News

Al Qaeda is Thriving in Syria’s Chaos

Thomas Joscelyn

In the shadow of ISIS’ barbaric rise in Syria and Iraq, another familiar terror group is experiencing a quiet renaissance: al Qaeda. more...

From the Hill: