All over Syria, Iranian troops had been reduced to playing defense. In the latest round of fighting in Idlib, they did not step in until the dénouement — a far cry from the theocracy’s Syrian glory days.
The biggest cause of this decline was Donald Trump. In 2018, he withdrew unilaterally from the JCPOA nuclear deal, then imposed draconian sanctions that crippled the theocracy’s economy.
Magnified by the pandemic, the impact has been profound. These days, even pro-regime Iranians are uncomfortable about sacrificing so much blood and treasure for the sake of meddling in distant lands.
The Trump administration has left Iran weaker than at any time in recent memory. The sanctions alone would have been harsh enough, but they formed part of a broader ‘maximum pressure’ strategy.