Syria Changed the Iranian Way of War

And What That Means for a Future Conflict With the United States

Thomas Peter / Reuters

In the spring of 2011, watching the groundswell of dissent that eventually came to be known as the Arab Spring, commentators of various political stripes and nationalities expressed hope that the region would move toward democracy. Iran had experienced a similar moment two years earlier, when millions of citizens protested what they saw as the fraudulent reelection of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But by 2011, Tehran had effectively crushed that movement. As a result, many Iranians watched the Arab Spring unfold with envy. Syria, in particular, captured their imagination. Under the Assad family’s rule, Syria had been a crucial ally to the …