In a conference call with The Israel Project on Tuesday, Dr. Jonathan Spyer, a Middle East journalist and analyst, said that Syria has “become a subcontractor for the ambitions of outside powers,” notably the Islamic Republic of Iran. Spyer explained that Iran’s involvement in Syria is a key part of its “regional empire building program,” which it views to be of “critical importance.”
Dr. Spyer said the Syrian uprising against Assad was now “without any hope” of success. But “in the moment of victory,” the Assad regime, rather than being victorious and strong, “was absolutely depended for its victory and continued existence on its patrons, Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
He also addressed the emerging conflict between Israel and Iran in southwest Syria. Dr. Spyer said Iran “played a crucial role in the preservation of the Assad regime, now seeking to push its project westwards towards the Golan Heights.” Israel, meanwhile, is “determined to stop that process in its tracks.”
Elaborating further on Iran’s role in the region, Dr. Spyer stated that the JCPOA, the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers agreed to in 2015, played a significant role in cementing Iran’s totalitarian and hegemonic agenda in the Middle East.
The million-dollar windfall from sanctions relief “strengthened and broadened the Iranian hand.” However, Dr. Spyer insisted, even before the deal was signed “Iran still managed to find billions of dollars to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, to finance the Shiite militias in Iraq, and the uprising of the Houthi movement in Yemen.”
In his view, it is testimony that “the regional empire building program is of such critical importance to the Iranian regime that, even when sanctions were having visible effects on the living standard of the Iranian people,” the Iranian leadership set aside billions for its military expansionism.
Dr. Spyer concluded that Iran was “empire building before the deal, empire building during the deal and if the deal is scrapped, it will not have any effect on the Iranian’s determination to keep on building.” However, if the deal is dismantled, it “may mark the beginning of an attempt to comprehensively resist that effort which is long overdue.”
A complete recording of the call is embedded below.
[Photo: AIPAC ]