Iran Will Not Be the Final Victor in Syria

The tens of thousands foot soldiers of the IRGC, spearheaded the Syrian military in mass executions of innocent people, according to Alavi.  The United Nations reported 82 individuals, including women and children, were murdered on the spot in the streets and in their homes. 

In an article in the American Thinker on December 26, Heshmat Alavi, political journalist and activist, writes about the he intense war that lost Aleppo some weeks ago after a struggle with  a lame-duck Syrian army of less than 20,000 deployable forces, backed up  by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its proxy forces on the ground, as well as Russia with its indiscriminate air strikes. 

Alavi writes, “The amazing perseverance shown by Aleppo locals for years now in the face of atrocious airstrikes and artillery shelling is unprecedented to say the least. Amidst all this, the silence and inaction seen from the West, especially the United States, will remain forever a source of shame.”  He adds, “In the pro-Assad camp there are three decision-makers. First Russia, second Iran, and third the Syrian regime. The role played by Assad and his military in such scenes is next to nothing.” 

The people of the world hoped for a ceasefire in Aleppo in the early days of the war because of the shocking crimes, and wanted to have the rebels and remaining civilians transferred to other opposition-controlled areas. 

Washington and Moscow reached what can be described a ceasefire agreement on December 13th. Negotiations between Turkey and Russia began soon after, and resulted in an agreement to evacuate Aleppo. Alavi writes, “Practically, the parties involved in the talks were Aleppo representatives and Russia, hosted by Turkey. All necessary preparations were made to begin evacuating the city from the morning of Wednesday, December 14th.”  

The agreement was breached by Iran and the IRGC disrupted the evacuation process. Iran sought not to have Aleppo evacuated but to exterminate all Syrian rebels and civilians. 

Pressure from the international community forced implementation of the Russia-Syrian rebel agreement twenty-four hours later, on December 15th, when the first convoy carrying the wounded exited Aleppo, only to face roadblocks imposed by Iran-backed forces and the Assad military. 

While Iran raised conditions for the evacuation, Russia threatened to airstrike any party hindering the evacuation. Tehran was forced to bend to Moscow’s pressure, resulting in a ‘defeat’ for Iran, and a ‘victory’ for the Syrian opposition.  

Alavi writes, “Politically speaking, Iran has become a secondary party in Syria.” 

For Putin, a political settlement now makes sense. Staying involved in an ongoing insurgency does not. But for that, he needs the opposition — which is fractured — to accept a political outcome, and there is little prospect of that so long as Assad remains in power,” as explained by Dennis Ross, who served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and was a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

This is not the end of the Syrian opposition. It still controls large swathes of Syria, with areas over ten times larger than Aleppo and millions of residents. Idlib Province has a population of three million; the western coast of the Euphrates in the Turkish border, recently liberated by the Free Syrian Army from Daesh (ISIS/ISIL); large portions of Deraa Province neighboring Jordan; a strategically important section in the north in Latakia Province on the Turkish border; large portions of areas in the Damascus vicinity and large portions in the Aleppo vicinity. 

Western mainstream media reporting aside, the Syrian opposition has the capability to rise once again.

Divisions between the Syrian people and the Assad regime have reached the point of no return. Nearly 500,000 have been killed and more than half of the Syrian population displaced. According to Alavi, the Syrian nation will never accept the continuation of this regime. 

What ever Iran believes, it will most likely not be the final victor in Syria. 

In the first place, for Iran, it is vital to maintain Assad in power. His fall will be the end of Iran in Syria. Should the Syrian opposition become weaker, the crisis will continue while Assad remains in power. Additionally, Assad is not acceptable to the international community because of his crimes against humanity. 

Secondly, while Iran is financing and providing the ground forces, Russia is calling the shots and has differences in interestThe foreign policy of U.S. President Barack Obama allowed Tehran to take advantage and prolong the Syrian crisis, while Russia took the helm and America was sidelined. With Donald Trump in the White House, there may be a very different U.S. foreign policy regarding Syria, Iran and the Middle East. 

Russia has interests in Syria, but Trump’s view toward Iran and the nuclear deal, are uncertain. A good relationship between the U.S. and Russia will not have a negative impact on the region, and this is good news for the Syrian opposition. 

There’s a great possibility of Trump and his secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson eventually convincing Russia to provide concessions. Alavi says, “This is not in Iran’s interests, as Tehran remembers Russia ditching Libyan the dictator Muammar Qaddafi.”  

For 16 years America has failed with their Middle East policy despite opportunities to make significant changes. “The 2003 war literally gift-wrapped Iraq to Iran, parallel to the highly flawed mentality of preferring Shiite fundamentalism to Sunni fundamentalism. This allowed Iran take full advantage of such failures and resulting voids,” Alavi writes, adding, “Aleppo will be a short-lived success story for Iran. The tides are changing across the globe and Iran will no longer enjoy opportunities from West rapprochement. Understanding this very well, this is exactly why Tehran has resorted to such atrocities and sought to massacre all in Aleppo.”

In contrast to how the U.S. handled Iraq, Russia left the roots of Aleppo in the hearts of the Syrians. As world powers, especially the U.S. and Russia, review their future objectives, Alavi believes that Iran will be the first and ultimate party to suffer.