Saturday, December 22, 2018

Iran's 'Land Bridge' To The Mediterranean

US pullout strengthens Iran 'land bridge' to the Mediterranean 

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria risks shattering a cornerstone of Washington’s Middle East policy by allowing Iran to consolidate a “land bridge” to the Mediterranean.
The much-bandied about scenario that sees Iran redrawing the regional map by entrenching a land corridor across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is becoming a reality, analysts say.

Critics of Trump’s decision argue that for all his fiercely anti-Iranian stance, he has just gifted Tehran a decades-old strategic goal.

Trump made the shock announcement on Wednesday, saying that the troop deployment in Syria was no longer needed because the Islamic State (IS) group had been defeated.
Many in his own camp challenged that assessment and warned that such a move would abandon the ground to the United States’ main regional foe.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee even issued a rare joint statement warning against “a strategic error” that would empower “malign actors such as Russia and Iran.”
Iran has thousands of regular forces deployed across Syria in support of the regime, as well as thousands of militiamen it supports from various countries.
“It is clearly a strategic victory for Tehran,” said Middle East analyst Julien Theron. “It will allow it to remove the Western buffer between Syria and Iraq.”
The United States currently has around 2,000 forces deployed in Syria in two areas along the Iraqi border that did not fully block Iranian movement but kept it in check.
One is in support of Kurdish-led forces spearheading the ongoing battle against IS jihadists east of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria. The other is further south at the Al-Tanaf desert base, where Damascus and its allies have repeatedly said US troops had no reason to be.

Syria’s government, which has recently been reclaiming control over vast swathes of territory it lost when the war broke out in 2011, is aligned with Tehran.

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