The war for the Syrian Desert is in fact a war for the heart of the Middle East. The Iranian-led coalition in Syria is racing against the US-backed forces there, as both seek to defeat the Islamic State (IS), the group that has shaped the face of the region for the last four years. It is a war in the desert to draw a line in the sand, some might say, or a war to draw a line across borders and connect four capitals: Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. Hence the battle is between two different regional and international agendas, with each side viewing the other as the real threat after the defeat of IS in Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa.
Indeed, the regional confrontation and the intersection of interests suggest that the Sykes-Picot borders are practically vanishing in accordance with the interests of regional alliances. In other words, central governments are shifting their focus from national borders in consideration of the interests of the wider axis to which they belong. One manifestation of this was reflected in the celebratory mood of media supporting the so-called resistance axis as its forces arrived at a Syrian-Iraqi border crossing June 9, with reported contact made between the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) advancing from Iraq and allied forces from Syria, under the direct supervision of the Iranian Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.