January 11, 2016 | Press Release

New Report by FDD Details Iran’s Military Assistance to the Assad Regime

FDD Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – As parties under the auspices of the United Nations prepare for a new rounds of peace talks on Syria, a new report published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) explores the deepening of military ties between Iran and the Assad regime and provides policy recommendations for Congress and the Administration to address Tehran’s effort to save its besieged ally.  

The report, “Doubling Down on Damascus: Iran’s Military Surge to Save the Assad Regime,” authored by FDD research analyst Max Peck, explores Iran’s deployment of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) ground forces, proxy militias, weapons, logistical support, and financial support to prevent the ouster of the Assad regime by Sunni rebel forces.

Despite its deleterious policies, Iran won an invitation to join the Syria talks. Peck’s report argues that this policy reversal “will prove counterproductive to resolving the conflict, as Tehran appears committed to preserving Assad’s rule to the very end.”

Peck explains that “With the renewed urgency of fighting the Islamic State (IS) in recent months, the United States must recognize that destroying IS on the ground requires the support of Sunni rebels currently preoccupied with fighting the Syrian regime. To remove Assad from the equation, Washington and its partners must deprive him of his main source of support. Instead of cooperating with Iran for an elusive diplomatic solution, the United States and Europe should make Iran’s engagement in Syria as costly as possible.”

“The Iranian effort to buttress the Assad regime extends well beyond sending advisors or even dispatching Hezbollah to Syria,” says Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at FDD. “As my colleague Max Peck documents in this detailed report, IRGC elements are fighting and dying in large numbers while Iran-sponsored Shiite militias continue to flood the battlefield. This report reinforces with jarring clarity why Iran should not be a partner in Syrian peace talks. This report will be an important resource for Congress, the media, and those tracking developments in the region.”

Peck’s new report provides a series of recommendations for U.S. policy towards Iran and Syria including: 

  • Interdict arms shipments of Iranian weapons into Syria by sharing intelligence with Turkey and Kurdish groups in Iraq and Syria.
  • Designate the IRGC and its proxies as terrorist organizations and sanctions those entities and foreign companies that do business with it.
  • Require the administration to report every 90 days on Iran’s activities in the following areas: provision of arms, financial support, intelligence sharing, military support, and IRGC and foreign fighter deployments. Similarly, the Treasury Department should issue a regular report on Iran’s financial, technological, and material support to the Assad regime.
  • Increase the costs of Iran’s engagement by maintaining the pressure on Assad and his Iranian allies through US support for the armed opposition.
  • Legislate that it is the policy of the United States that Assad, in his capacity as a state sponsor of terrorism, may not play a role in the future of Syria and that he should be held to account for his crimes against humanity.

Peck acknowledges that the above recommendations alone will not end the conflict in Syria. He holds that the current peace negotiations “risk legitimizing Iran’s activities and prolonging Assad’s rule. Only by reversing Tehran’s gains on the ground can the United States and its allies promote a peaceful resolution of the civil war and undercut Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region.”

Download the full report here.

About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Founded in 2001, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications and investigative journalism in support of its mission to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism. Visit our website at www.defenddemocracy.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Kevin M. Black, Communications Associate
Office: (202) 403-2941 Cell: (203) 858-0562
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