Trilateral Meeting of Iran, Syria and Russia
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to attend a trilateral meeting with the Iranian officials and Russia’s visiting special envoy. Moualem’s visit comes at a critical time for the Assad regime. After more than four years of intense fighting, Syria is practically disintegrated, portioned into areas of influence of the regime, the Islamic State, and various opposition groups. Assad is mainly in control of Damascus-Latakia corridor, less than 20 percent of what used to be Syria, with the opposition closing in on Latakia.
Iran’s support of Assad’s regime has been a key factor for its survival. A coalition of Lebanese Hezbollah and Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi Shia militias under the command of Iran’s Quds Force have taken up the fight against the opposition at a time when the morale in the Syrian army and the government’s national guard (the NDF) must be at its lowest after suffering a string of losses to the opposition this year. The Quds Force role in the fight, coupled with tens of billions of Iranian and Russian economic and military aid to Assad, has prevented the collapse of the regime.
Discussions in Tehran on the future of the war in Syria could be very intense. Assad does not have many options left and last week all but conceded to a de facto partition of the country when he said publicly that his army could not fight everywhere and needed to focus on areas of crucial importance to the regime. Iran and Russia, at least for now, seem to have doubled down on Assad's chances of defeating the opposition and will probably push Moualem to turn around the situation on the ground, the worst for Assad since the start of the civil war in 2011.
File photo: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (IRNA)