Since late 2017, Iran has deployed militias affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in areas west of the Euphrates River and parts of the region to its east in the governorate of Deir ez-Zor, which was previously under Islamic State control. These militias from various backgrounds have succeeded in recruiting thousands of local youths into their ranks, thus providing the IRGC with important contact with the local communities. Iran has also succeeded in building important relationships and friendships with local authorities and in bringing local economic and professional elite into the diverse networks it is currently forming.
The research first examines the forms of Iran’s presence, and its military and civilian activities in the regime-controlled parts of Deir ez-Zor. It then analyses the factors contributing to Iran’s power at the levels of local authorities and society. It analyses the challenges that could potentially limit or hinder this success in the medium and long terms, the most notable of which are sectarian differences, the presence of other active forces in the governorate, and Iran’s diminishing financial resources due to tightened US sanctions.