Feb. 23, 2018
- In Syria, a Moment to Turn Back Iranian Aggression – Joshua S. Block
Iran has been directly implicated in mass-murder in Syria, where the mullahs have propped up the repressive regime of Bashar Assad with the help of their proxy, Hizbullah, as part of their campaign to export the Islamic revolution and increase their influence in the region. By 2016, an estimated 6,500-9,200 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops and Iranian paramilitary personnel were stationed in Syria.
Pro-Assad regime forces entered the Kurdish enclave of Afrin this week to end Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, the one area immune to the growing Iranian presence in the country. U.S.-backed Kurdish forces kept northern Syria “Iran-free.” Kurdish forces feel uneasy about the support of pro-regime troops, but they are left with the choice of risking slaughter at the hands of the Turkish military or accepting a deal with the devil.
Meanwhile, the regime in Tehran has instructed Iranian-backed Shia militia forces to march on Afrin together with other pro-regime forces. Iran now has a golden opportunity, for the first time, to penetrate the Kurdish-operated “no-go-zone” in the north. The Kurdish minority has so far been a reliable counter-force to Iranian influence.
The conflict has morphed from a local confrontation between Turkish and Kurdish forces into a crisis spearheaded by Assad and Iran. If the U.S. is serious about confronting Iranian aggression, Afrin would be a good place to start. The writer is CEO and president of The Israel Project.(New York Daily News)