In Syria, the latest news from the front focuses on Deir Ezzor's director. Syrian troops cling to the ISIS strongholds behind the Euphrates, while the US-backed SDF Arab forces try to close on Raqqa and move southward.
From Asaysh commands (Kurdish security forces, aligned with the Syrian Democratic Forces) there is a strong concern: if Assad resumes the control of South-East Syria (Governorate of Deir Ezzor and Syrian-Iraqi border), Iran will be the real strategic winner of war, as already condemned by Israel. The defeat of ISIS will in essence be the end of the Sunni political-military platform created to curb the Shiite axis between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf; the created vacuum would inevitably be filled by Tehran.
In fact, the current Shiite weight in Iraqi institutions and military facilities could allow a territorial continuity between Lebanon (where Hezbollah enjoys a growing grounding in the territory also thanks to the merits achieved against the Jihad Sunni) and Iran, through a Syria still dominated by Shiites Alawites of Assad. On the ground, this reality, though not consolidated, already exists. Taking into account that Tehran, the largest ally of Damascus (after Russia), also sponsored by Iraqi Shiites, sees the great strategic outcome for Iran that would be able to significantly expand the area of influence in a strategic region, especially with regard to energy reserves: the province of Deir Ezzor is the richest oil in Syria, and there are few voices in the West (and reflection in the Kurdish world) that hope for ISIS's supreme resistance, to avoid greater Iranian interference in the area.
The assessment takes on greater value in consideration of the ongoing political conflict in the Gulf, where the historically Sunni Qatari and member of the Cooperation Council seems to wink in Tehran, dividing the Arab petro-monarchy front and creating not a few worries to Saudi Arabia, deus ex machina of the anti-Assad and anti-Shiite uprising in Syria. Israeli fibrillations in this sense are already known, with a peak in 2015 at the time of the nuclear agreements, when the western line against Iran turned out to be somewhat softened compared to the traditional trend. Tel Aviv in this regard moves autonomously, unleashing even from US plans, perpetually appearing late in recent years on strategic assessments in the Middle East and not anchored to a long-term strategy.
Israel knows very well that Syria's Assad with an Iraqi-influenced Iraq has a specific gravity greater than a Syria bordering on a Sunnis-led Iraq, as it was at Saddam's time. That is why the Jewish state up to the Second Gulf War has never shown real intentions to defend Bashar Al Assad, less threatening than its father, and objectively far from the clichés of the typical Arab dictator. When Saddam fell, he who dared throw him Scud on Israel, it was absurd for Tel Aviv not to jump for joy. Two opposing enemies (the Shiite Ba'athist Syria and the Sunni Ba'athist Iraq) were always preferable to a multiplicity of governments and organizations directly connected to a single demiurge: Iran.
When the war in Syria is over, among the absolute protagonists, many are currently on the Tehran payroll. Over all: Hezbollah, which boasts a huge credit in Damascus and an increase know how military; the sign of Iraqi Shiite militias (PMUs) who have stood out against the Caliphate and are now holding the Baghdad government in punch. Addition to these is Assad, the only true military winner of the war against Islamic terrorism in Syria.
Will the Middle East of the near future see Iran as the protagonist? If cracks in the Sunni Arab world exist, it is unquestionable that Tehran's role is to grow. In this sense, Egypt's choices will be decisive: the former Armenian enemy of Iran could continue to approach (despite the Qatar knot) in Tehran, increasing the disorientation of Western Chancellery.
The great unknown will therefore be the reaction of Israel, pending consistent US policies and a nod from Russia, the only power capable of securing Iran's containment within the acceptable limits for Tel Aviv.
(images: frame Al Jazeera / IRNA)