„Finally, much will depend on the stance taken by the new US Administration after January 20th. The current Administration’s Syria policy has been characterized mainly by flailing ineffectuality. Ambassador Samantha Power’s tones at the UN this week – asking Russian representatives if the suffering in Aleppo didn’t ‚creep them out‘ – were a perfect coda to this.
The incoming Administration contains hawkish figures who are deeply suspicious in particular of the ambitions of Iran and its allies in the Middle East. Generals Mattis, Kelly and Flynn exemplify this trend. But President-elect Trump himself has spoken of the need to coordinate with Russia in the fight against IS (and Russia, of course, is allied with Iran and Assad in Syria). Incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s close ties to Russia are a further notable factor in this regard. If the Iran-sceptic element in the new Administration wins out, this may usher in a determined policy to contain the gains of the Iran-aligned Assad regime, and maintain support to anti-regime and anti-IS forces in Syria.
If, however, the desire to ‚co-ordinate‘ with Russia against IS wins out, this raises the genuine possibility of pro-Iranian, pro-Russian forces taking the key role in the ongoing fight against IS and by so doing launching a real bid to reunite Syria under their own control. If this latter scenario transpires, it isn’t immediately imminent, given the regime’s manpower problems and remaining priorities in its war against the rebels further west. But it will be a matter of concern for all regional elements, including Israel, who are watching closely the advances made by the Iranians and their allies in Iraq and in Syria in recent months.“ (Jonathan Spyer: „After the Fall of Aleppo“)