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The Other War in Syria


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the_other_war_in_syria_105137.htmlReal Clear World:


Daniel DePetris



The world may be focused on the big fight in Syria between the rebels and Bashar al-Assad's regime, but there is a smaller, albeit just as significant, second front going on.


Though many of the region's leaders seem to have either ignored or forgotten it, the second fight in Syria is taking place among opponents of the Syrian government.


As the opposition continues to pick off regime soldiers and the government embarks on yet another counteroffensive around Damascus and Homs, the rebels themselves are starting to duke it out over the natural resources in Syria's eastern plains, where the bulk of its crude oil is located.


As much as Syria's military opposition likes to portray itself as a disciplined military organization with a sense of unity against the "criminal" Assad regime to its foreign donors, the scuffle over oil in the small Deir ez-Zor village of al-Musareb - between seemingly rival rebel brigades- is the most public illustration to date that Assad's opponents are divided over some very large questions. How should Syria be governed after Bashar's fall? Which ideology (Salafi, moderate Islam, or secular) will reign supreme in a post-Assad Syria? And how strong will democracy be in a nation that has been traumatized by two years of civil war?



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Iranian Strategy in Syria

Will Fulton, Joseph Holliday, and Sam Wyer


Executive Summary


The Islamic Republic of Iran has conducted an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power as long as possible while setting conditions to retain its ability to use Syrian territory and assets to pursue its regional interests should Assad fall.


The Iranian security and intelligence services are advising and assisting the Syrian military in order to preserve Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power. These efforts have evolved into an expeditionary training mission using Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces, Quds Force, intelligence services, and law enforcement forces. The deployment of IRGC Ground Forces to conflict abroad is a notable expansion of Iran’s willingness and ability to project military force beyond its borders.


Iran has been providing essential military supplies to Assad, primarily by air. Opposition gains in Syria have interdicted many ground resupply routes between Baghdad and Damascus, and the relative paucity of Iranian port-visits in Syria suggests that Iran’s sea-lanes to Syria are more symbolic than practical. The air line of communication between Iran and Syria is thus a key vulnerability for Iranian strategy in Syria. Iran would not be able to maintain its current level of support to Assad if this air route were interdicted through a no-fly zone or rebel capture of Syrian airfields.



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