Syria is granting citizenship to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iranians to change the demographics of the country, according to a report culling from Arab media by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute).
The development is a dangerous one for U.S. interests in the region as it moves the ayatollahs’ goal of creating a “Shiite Crescent” (read: Iranian regime occupation) in the region one step closer.
The influx of these new citizens is even more problematic considering their make-up. According to anti-Syrian regime and Saudi websites, those granted citizenship include Shiite militants from Iranian-backed militias (including those from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which Iran has been pumping into the warn-torn country), Iranian Revolutionary Guard members and fighters from the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
At the same time, Syria’s indigent Sunni population reports being literally “starved out” of their own country by the government. Through threats against and sieges of their communities, Sunnis have been all but forced to emigrate. Once they have left, their property is confiscated by the government, leaving nothing for them to return to.
Besides bringing Iranian jihadis to the border of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region, the influence of Iranians into Syria brings Iran’s pincers into the range of Jordan, another American ally.
The weakness and instability of King Abdullah’s rule make it the next country ripe for an Iranian influence op.
In addition, Iran is aligned in the region with not only Russia, a superpower with the most influence in the region, but also with Turkey.
Formerly a U.S. ally and still member of NATO, Turkey’s anti-Americanism — as driven by its fanatical Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his designs to recreate the glory days of the Ottoman Empire — poses its own threat to America. That threat is significantly multiplied due to its current alliance with Russia and Iran.
One could imagine that, at some point, the divergent ideologies of these three malevolent Middle Eastern players may cause problems for their alliance, but it is highly unlikely to happen in the near future.
While Erdogan is committed to being the next caliph of the Sunni Islamic world and Iran has its own Shiite End-Times prophecy it wants to see fulfilled, the rulers of both of these countries are both rational enough players to keep focused on their long term goals, which they know will be thwarted by poking the Russian bear.
To date, both Iran and Turkey have been careful to remain allies with Russia by taking a back seat to Putin and the progress he has made fulfilling Russia’s goals in the Middle East – namely, domination.
Under Trump, America has thrown its lot in with the region’s Sunni forces – Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the remaining Gulf States. Yet despite fighting a proxy war of its own in the region with Iran in Yemen, the leader of the pack, Saudi Arabia, has remained a rather ineffectual coalition partner.
Coupled with the kingdom’s problematic history of exporting extremism worldwide (which one could argue has fueled the entire conflict in the region) not to mention the recent debacle of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia has lost enormous political clout.
Egypt has problems of its own, from containing ISIS operatives in the Sinai, Hamas on its border and massive Muslim Brotherhood supporters and operative throughout the country and in its military.
The prospect of Syria becoming a mini-Iran thorough this latest demographic project does not bode well for America, its interests and the entire region.