Assad’s Secret Decree 1445 Makes Iran Military Ruler of Syria

DEBKA Weekly reveals exclusively that Iran has stolen a march on all the players in the moves to resolve the Syrian conflict by persuading Bashar Assad to secretly sign Presidential Decree No. 1445, for the “Re-organization of the Military Militias in Syria.”
Under its first clause, all the Shiite militias of app. 110-120,000 members fighting for his regime are gathered together under the central command of the Iranian military mission permanently posted at Syrian High Command headquarters in Damascus. The mission head, usually a high-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guards general, does not defer to President Assad, but serves under the Supreme Commander of Iranian frontline forces in Syria and Iraq, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
This quiet Iranian coup has outmaneuvered Russian President Vladimir Putin, who co-sponsored the fourth round of the Astana conference for talks between the Assad government and the Syrian opposition, taking place on Tuesday, May 2; US President Donald Trump’s phone conversation with Putin that day on cooperation with Russia in Syria; and the plans discussed with Putin by Turkish leader Reccep Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during their visits to his Black Sea residence at Sochi.
Tehran made them all look as through they were running in circles by stepping forward as the proper address for dealing with the Syrian crisis. This authority was conferred by the decree Assad was persuaded to sign.
The measure permitted Iran to create a Shiite military force, under a single central command, which exceeds the Syrian army in size by 40-50,000 troops. It is made up of an estimated 80,000 Syrian Shiites, 25,000 Afghans, 5,000 Pakistanis and some 8,000 Hizballah combatants.
Our military and intelligence sources reveal that the Syrian government’s army has been whittled down to less than 70,000 fighting men by progressively smaller recruitment figures; it is shrinking further as young Syrians desert the ranks to join the pro-Iranian militias. They are attracted by better service conditions, higher pay and promised transport to hospital in Iran, if they are injured.
Syria is therefore undergoing the same sort of military Iraniization that overtook Iraq in the years 2014-2016, when Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Muhandis gathered 40 militias to create the Popular Mobilization Units, most of them Shiite, but some also Sunni, Christian and Yazidi.
The PMU gained Iraqi state sponsorship, and in December, 2016, was incorporated in Iraq’s national armed forces.
Since then, the US commanders leading the war on ISIS have had little choice but to cooperate with this Iraqi militia force – even for the Mosul operation – and overlook the fact that it defers directly to Iranian command. The American officers have been unable to prevent Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) staff setting up offices in the parts of Mosul liberated by US-led forces from Islamic State occupation, because the Iranian staff come in the guise of Iraqi PMU personnel. They are also assisted by Iran’s ally, the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The Iraqi war arena is fast settling into a pattern in which Americans win the war on ISIS, only to have the fruits of victory snatched up by Tehran. This situation replicates America’s success in defeating Al-Qaeda in the 2003-2007 conflict, only to see Baghdad dropping into Iran’s lap
These tactics are beginning to work for Iran in Syria too, with two major differences: One, Hizballah is an integral component of Iran’s amalgamated Shiite army; and, two, Iran’s military takeover of Syria brings a couple of archenemies into menacing proximity to Israel’s borders.
Furthermore, a US-led offensive against ISIS is till in the making.
Exactly a year ago, the commander of Hizballah forces in Syria, Mustafa Badreddine, was assassinated.
On March 31, Lt.-Gen. Gady Eisenkott, chief in staff of Israel’s armed forces, said Israeli intelligence had corroborated reports that Hizballah had assassinated him.
“Badreddine was killed by his superiors, which points to the cruelty, complexity and tension between Hizballah and is patron, Iran,” he said.
According to information reaching DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources, Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah sought to appoint Talal Hamiyah to replace him. As chief of Hizballah’s External Security Organization, Hamiyah is in charge of orchestrating the organization’s operations abroad.
Iran flatly opposed this appointment, and so its Lebanese surrogate’s expeditionary force in Syria was left without a commanding officer for a whole year.
This problem is now solved. Hizballah, like the other Shiite militias in Syria, comes under the Iranian commander of the new Syrian army.

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