Are the Bombings in Tartus and Jableh the Beginning of a New Kind of War?

Have the Islamic State's attacks on regime-held areas on Syria's coast signaled the start of a new battlefront, or a sinister plan to regain the confidence of Assad's disillusioned loyalists?

There are four possibilities that could have assisted the Islamic State in carrying out last week’s attacks in the coastal cities of Tartous and Jableh (which the group has officially claimed responsibility for, even though regime media have attempted to attribute the bombings to Ahrar Al-Sham and the Army of Islam). I believe that one of the following possibilities might have aided the suicide bombers to reach their targets with such effectiveness:

One: ISIS used the rampant corruption of the security officers and members that are assigned to secure these areas, and persuaded them to cooperate and allow its attackers to enter with their equipment in return for bribes. This indicates that the security grip Assad professes to have over the coastal cities is actually fragile. Moreover, it means that there is a possibility that such operations might occur again, whenever ISIS or any other faction decides to strike.

Two: a deliberate facilitation by the Assad regime for ISIS and its members to execute the criminal operations. This is because the regime and its allies (including sectarian militias backed by Iran) have started to feel that many of those who were misled and moved to defend Assad and his circle are fed up with the regime’s excuses and corruption and disrespect for their children's lives. Therefore, such operations might encourage them to return to the regime and continue sending their children to die for the sake of keeping Assad in his palace and the Iranian hegemony over Syria.

Three: many are of the opinion that ISIS is the creation of Iran and the Assad’s security apparatus; therefore, Damascus and Tehran can direct ISIS into the areas they desire. It is obvious that this was the first operation against these areas despite the brutality of regime operations against the other Syrian areas. It is also obvious that Iran and Israel were excluded from all the criminal acts that happened in Europe and most of the Arab countries, especially those that oppose Iran.

Four: ISIS has the ability to efficiently organize, hack and operate in secrecy, which means that sneaking into a small area on the coast could suggest the beginning of more dangerous and brutal operations that will not exclude any area in Syria. I presume this is the weakest of the possibilities.

However, regardless of the reasons, ISIS’ success in executing such operations in addition to the stalled attempts at a political solution, due to the intransigence of Iran and the Assad regime, backed by the Russian air forces and political influence, will lead Syria into a more brutal and darker period than it has seen so far.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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