What’s the Intention and Strategy of Iran in Syria?
The republic of Iran is involved in far-reaching, costly, and integrated activities in Syria to prop president Bashar al-Saad’s regime for as long as possible. All together, the nation is busy creating the perfect circumstances under which it may retain the capability to exploit the Syrian territory and resources to safeguard its regional interests if the Assad’s regime falls.
The Iranian security agencies and intelligence units are currently advising the Syrian armed forces regarding how to keep Bashar al-Saad in office. With time, this approach has become an Iranian expeditionary training operation led by various arms of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). By commiting the IRGC’s Ground Forces to war abroad, Iran is sending a strong signal that it can and will assert its military force beyond its territory.
Iran has also been sending aircraft to deliver stockpiles of weapons to Syria. This help has proved meaningful with various restocking routes on the ground between Baghdad and Damascus having been shut by the advancing opposition. The military hardware delivered has injected appreciable impetus into the Syrian forces, helping them win numerous encounters with militia.
Additionally, Iran is actively helping shabiha forces who are on the same front as the Syrian army. This move may be somehow inspired by the need to counter any collapse of Asaad or narrowing of his territory to Alawite–a coastal enclave, and the country’s capital. Should that come to pass, the militias will appreciate Tehran’s help, and Iran will retain the ability to exercise its military power and operate from inside Syria.
What Iran does in Syria matches the objectives and activities of numerous other armed parties. For example, Hezbollah from Lebanon started playing a direct part in the Syrian conflict as Asaad began to cede control over sections of Syrian territory in 2012. The group has extended support to Asaad’s regime in the form of a strong well-trained military force whose role in the war is perfectly aligned with the strategic interests of Tehran.
For sure, forces that Tehran cannot defeat have prevented the state from having control all over Syria. There’s also a high chance that the end of the conflict and fall of Asaad would deal a major blow to Iran’s ability to project military force. Nevertheless, Tehran is continuously implementing counter-measures to ascertain that any eventual defeat of the Syrian government does not interfere Iran’s strategic regional objectives. Those goals are not far-fetched so long as the exit of Asaad leaves some Syrian regions under the governance of Tehran-friendly groups, allowing the country to operate from there, and hoping the opposition does not capture all of Syrian territory.