Anchal Vohra in Foreign Policy: Iran seeking to make Syria a Shiia country

In a recent article for Foreign Policy, Anchal Vohra argues that Iran is seeking to turn Syria into a Shi state fully within its orbit.

Day-by-Day the presence of Iranian-backed militias grows in the country, threatening the rule of Bashar al-Assad. Initially in a more supportive role, the Iranian-backed militias are now the dominant force in government-controlled areas, says Vohra.

The depletion of Assad’s forces has left the regime increasingly exposed to the demands of its ally, Iran. Under the pretext of protecting shrines, Iran has begun to directly recruit Syrians into its own militias. Iran has also increasingly strengthened ties with high-ranking members of the Syrian military, especially the fourth division led by Maher al-Assad.

While it’s impossible to quantify the extent of Iranian influence in Syria, it is certainly growing, argues Vohra, concluding, “It’s easy to see how Iran’s expansion could exacerbate sectarian tensions in the region.”