The situation is Syria is shifting according to Assad’s government on Monday. The last of the Islamic State fighters reached an agreement with the Syrian government to leave the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and its neighboring town to head to one of the group’s last strongholds in eastern Syria. The Syrian government continues to make these agreements, moving the rebels out of the main areas of the country and confining them to the eastern section.
Starting in 2011, Assad’s government lost control of large sections of the country and without the intervention of Russia and Iran, would have likely lost the war to the rebels. Now Iran uses its positions in Syria to escalate its issues with Israel.
Russia sees these moves as putting Syria in a position ripe for political settlement, allowing foreign forces to move out of the country. However, in northern Syria, Turkey has become entrenched and is defending its border with Syria. Additionally, with Iran and Israel trading fire, the prospect of all the foreign forces pulling out seems more pressure to Iranian regime forces in Syria.
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also demanded that Iran pull out of Syria, as part of the U.S. policy toward the regime going forward. Pompeo also gave its list of demands that Iran would need to comply with in order to see sanctions from the U.S. lifted. The Iranian economy has struggled in recent years, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) lifted some sanctions and was sold to the Iranian people as the means to lift their economy.
However, the Iranian economy is still struggling and with the new sanctions from the U.S., it is likely to only get worse.
“Thanks to our colleagues at the Department of Treasury, sanctions are going back in full effect and new ones are coming…These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history,” said Pompeo. He also spoke directly to the Iranian people, stating that they deserve better than this current situation under the Iranian regime.
The U.S. does not necessarily want to engage in a war with Iran but is hoping to use sanctions and other efforts to weaken the Iranian regime financially, to reduce the power of the Iranian government in the region. However, that is likely to have an impact on the influence that Iran has in Syria as well.
With the situation in Syria still up in the air, Iran’s influence in the region is in question, the policy changes of the Trump administration could have an impact on Syria, as well as the Iranian regime.