A recent report issued by a Syrian rights center warned that the mass forced displacement and demographic change operations being carried out by the Assad regime forces and their allied foreign militias were threatening Syria’s social fabric and the country’s national identity.
The report entitled, “Displacement in Syria”, which was issued by the Syrian Center for Legal Studies, said that the Assad regime has been conducting organized and extensive forced displacement campaigns against rebel-held areas.
Since the very outset, the Assad regime has pursued a strategy aimed at polarizing the Syrian society by riddling it with competing rivalries; Shiites vs Sunnis, Arabs vs Kurds, majority vs minorities, loyalists vs dissidents and so on.
This strategy has paved the way for the establishment of the principle of the guardianship of the Islamic jurist, known as Wilayat al-Faqih, which seeks to transform the revolution in Syria into a Sunni-Shi’ite conflict which allows for mobilizing the Shiites and exploiting their religious sentiments to fuel the project aimed at consolidating Iran’s influence in the region, the report added.
The report indicated that the displacement strategy represents a common interest shared by the Assad and Iranian regimes, who have different goals and ambitions in Syria.
While Assad seeks to strike the social base of the revolution and regain his full control over Syria, Iran seeks to change the demographic landscape in order to secure a strong presence and influence in Syria as well as on the peace process, the report said.
The report added that the Assad regime’s displacement operations are aimed at creating crises at the local and international levels; displacing the revolution’s social base from the rebellious areas; securing the border crossings with Lebanon; securing the Damascus suburbs; and forcing rebels into one area. The report noted that regime forces are overstretched fighting on multiple fronts, which explains the regime’s motives behind forcing the armed opposition and its social base to move to the province of Idlib.
Moreover, the report noted that Iran seeks to bring about a demographic change in some key areas across Syria, either through military force, as was the case in the town of Qusair in rural Homs, the western Qalamoun area in rural Damascus, and some areas in the Damascus suburbs, or by way of soft power, through buying properties and real estates, launching projects and investments and creating religious and social affinities.
The report concluded by noting that Russia has a common goal with the Assad regime to force rebel fighters to gather in Idlib province as it will make it easier for Russia to provide aerial support for regime forces, thus reducing the cost of conducting military operations in multiple areas across Syria stretching from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south. The report noted that Russia is employing the same tactics it used during the war in Chechnya. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Asharq Al-Awsat)