Middle East Peace and Security Initiative Nonresident Senior Fellow Nicholas Blanford writes for the Christian Science Monitor on Russian and Iranian influence in Syria, quoting Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on Russia’s motivations for intervention in the conflict:

Russia’s increased military assistance to Syria provides President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime with a welcome boost to its hold on power after a series of territorial losses this year to rebel forces.

But while Russia appears to have coordinated its military expansion with Iran, Mr. Assad’s other key ally, the move could also serve as a counterbalance to Tehran’s powerful influence in Syria, a phenomenon that has generated ripples of unease in some circles of the Damascus regime.

[…]

“Some observers are reading the Russian intervention as an attempt to pre-empt the total ‘Iranization’ of the Syrian state, as much as it is an attempt to rescue the regime,” says Faysal Itani, resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Read the full article here.