Iran and Russia have made a number of new appointments in efforts to take control of Syria's state institutions and ensure their influence, according to Lebanon’s Al-Modon.
Both the Iranians and Russians are coordinating on military and security changes to the Syrian regime leadership, the report said adding that it looks like a division of centers of influence between them.
The report went on saying that the Russians have recently engaged in making material changes which have affected regime military and security command positions.
The Russians have sent hundreds of officers to be investigated on a variety of charges, from abuse of power to cooperating with “armed terrorists groups” and spying. They also carried out various changes in the command of the military barracks, which the Iranians do not control. They initiated an active plan in 2016 to dissolve regime loyalist militias across Syria or to put them directly under their authority, as occurred with the Palestinian Liwa al-Quds.
Among the most important decisions was to transfer the commander of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Major General Mohamed Mahala, to retirement, after a previous extension, and then appoint him as a military adviser to the Republican Palace. Al-Modon’s sources predicted that Mahala would have a role in the National Security Agency later this year.
According to Al-Modon’s sources, there has been news that the visit of Iranian Chief of Staff, Mohammad Bagheri, to Damascus last month, was to oversee the transferring of Mahala from retirement to security adviser to Bashar al-Assad, so that Iran could keep a pressure card in the Republican Palace.
Unlike the Russians, the Iranians have focused on gaining the keys to allow them to facilitate their military and economic expansion in Syria, primarily through the Alawite sect.
On the ground, the Russians and Iranians are working to have greater penetration into the positions and centers of the Syrian forces, even at one another’s expense. Iran has begun to make changes recently after it felt threatened by the changes Russia was making to impose their control over key state institutions.