Iran Fuels Syria War demonstrates how Tehran is primarily responsible for keeping the fires of civil war burning in Syria. NCRI-US traces the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Syria; the organization shows how the IRGC divides Syria into military zones with the use of tens of thousands of foreign troops under its control. NCRI-US provides precise details of the scope and structure of the Iranian regime's forces in Syria, insight into Tehran's financial investment there, and the casualties it has absorbed.
Much conventional wisdom focuses on Moscow's bombing campaigns, rather than Tehran's foot soldiers. Of course, Russian airpower deserves attention, but without the forces under Tehran's control on the ground, Moscow's air raids would not be so effective helping Bashar al-Assad's army to defeat Syrian oppositionists.
The book's main contribution is the path it offers U.S. policymaking to deal with Iran's influence in Syria. NCRI-US urges a combination of force and diplomacy rather than diplomacy without the credible threat of force—the pattern that characterized the Obama administration's approach.
The book's last chapter offers bold steps to consider. NCRI-US argues that the Iranian regime must be excluded from international negotiations regarding Syria. Without this exclusion, negotiations will be unproductive as the ayatollahs are the main source of escalation and expansion of the fighting. NCRI-US recommends doubling-down on removing the IRGC, its agents, and proxies from Syria and Iraq. Shiite Iran adds fuel to the sectarian violence thereby paving the way for the expansion of the Islamic State, aka, ISIS. The organization also urges backing for the democratic Syrian opposition. Finally, NCRI-US calls for a no-fly zone and safe-haven in northern Syria to protect civilians.
How Iran Fuels Syria War offers excellent primary data for intelligence services to compare with information they obtain via other sources and methods. Unfortunately, the authors cannot provide information on their sources, a necessary precaution to protect the lives of NCRI intelligence agents inside Iran.
A word on the NCRI, which at various times has been labeled a terrorist organization or a legitimate, broad-based coalition. As a result, despite its record of successful penetration of the Iranian regime, its revelations do not always garner the kind of attention they deserve. This situation represents a failure on the part of those in the U.S. foreign policy establishment. It can only be hoped that the Trump administration will rectify this mistake.
Eventually, policymakers, journalists, and scholars need to face squarely Tehran's malevolent role in Syria. When they do, this important and revealing book is available.