Al-Monitor quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on Iran’s motivations for its policies in Syria: 

With the Saudis preoccupied with their role leading a coalition conducting a military intervention in Yemen, Turkey and Iran are currently the two key regional players most actively engaged on Syria, former Syrian diplomat Bassam Barabandi told Al-Monitor on Sept. 7. In recent weeks, Iran has been directly negotiating with the Syrian opposition group Ahrar al-Sham over the fate of the Syrian town of Zabadani and two nearby Shiite towns, at negotiations hosted by Turkey, with no Syrian officials present, he notes. Iran’s new diplomatic push in Syria “shows that Iran is more directly controlling its Syrian interests,” bypassing the Syrian regime, Barabandi, co-founder of the nongovernmental organization People Demand Change, said in an Aug. 24 analysis co-written with the Atlantic Council’s Faysal Itani.

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