The third in a series of briefings hosted by the American Enterprise Institute,
the Institute for the Study of War, and the Reserve Officers Association.
Iranian Strategy in Syria
Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Reserve Officers Association
One Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Please click here to RSVP. Lunch will be served.
Kimberly Kagan, president, Institute for the Study of War
Will Fulton, analyst, Critical Threats Project
Joseph Holliday, fellow, Institute for the Study of War
Marisa Sullivan, fellow, Institute for the Study of War
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. Iran has been providing essential military supplies to Assad, primarily by air, making the air line of communication between Iran and Syria a key vulnerability for Tehran’s strategy in Syria. Iran is also assisting pro-government shabiha militias, partly to hedge against Assad’s fall or the contraction of the regime into Damascus and a coastal Alawite enclave.
Lebanese Hezbollah began to take on a more direct combat role in Syria as the Assad regime began losing control over Syrian territory in 2012, and their involvement rapidly escalated in May 2013 with the assault on al Qusayr. Iraqi Shi‘a militants are also now fighting in Syria in support of Assad. The open participation of Iraqi Shi‘a militants in Syria is an alarming indicator of the expansion of sectarian conflict throughout the region.
The Syrian conflict has already constrained Iran’s influence in the Levant, and the fall of the Assad regime would further reduce Tehran’s ability to project power. Iran’s hedging strategy aims to ensure, however, that it can continue to pursue its vital interests if and when the regime collapses, using parts of Syria as a base as long as the Syrian opposition fails to establish full control over all of Syrian territory.
Defining the Threat Series Launch, March 21, 2013
Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, April 18, 2013