My latest for Defense One:
As the world ponders what comes next for Syria, the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah weighs heavily. And the prospect of more direct involvement by Tehran has many analysts worried. Moreover, the increasing radicalization by Syrian rebel groups, including the SMC’s decision to work directly with the local al Qaeda branch, bodes poorly for any future scenario…
Unfortunately, it is the jihadist militia groups that have focused so much on controlling territory and governance, while the moderate groups have done most of the fighting, weakening any hope of fostering and rebuilding a civil society after the war ends.
After the ambiguous results at the battles for Latakia and Aleppo, it seems clear that neither side is eking out a decisive advantage to win. Assad’s growing use of militias to fight instead of his own military suggests that not only is he losing control, but that local groups will be able to continue fighting if he’s swept from power. And the jihadization of Syria’s resistance movement also suggests that the war-after-this will be even more brutal as time moves on.
Go read the rest over at Defense One.