As prospects for Rouhani’s re-election in 1917 dim in Iran, the President may decide not to stand for a second term.

The mild euphoria in Iran following the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement has dissipated. There is a growing disappointment with the lack of tangible economic benefits in the daily lives of middle class Iranians, who supported the JCPOA. Moreover, there is a perception among some Iranians that Washington has tricked Tehran into surrendering its sovereignty on nuclear issues. These same Iranians also believe that America is obstructing the return of Iranian assets, discouraging normalization of commerce, and preventing access to international banking services. European banks continue to keep their distance from financing the many agreements signed between Iran and EU member state companies. These banks fear that regime rogue behavior will invite additional sanctions by the U.S. Congress, if not by a new administration in Washington following the November Presidential elections.

Iran is waging a "soft war" offensive -- media, social media, charm -- against the United States. Tehran believes it is scoring significant victories in this war, and it clearly has, as can be seen by the so-called "Iran deal" -- technically no "deal" at all: one side, Iran, got everything.

Iran's sophisticated employment of asymmetrical tactics, such as "soft war" -- which relies on the other side's wishes, conscious or not, to be taken in -- is apparently part of Tehran's strategy to level the playing field against the U.S., despite America's overwhelming military superiority.

Iran’s support for Syria’s al-Assad regime is allowing Iran to develop a multinational, military coalition of Shi’a combatants with combat experience. These veterans can be deployed in future conflicts as assets in support of Tehran’s ambitions. Additionally, Iran’s support for the Alawite-Shia house of Assad is lending impetus to the formation of a Shi’a Political International. Tehran’s assistance to the Syria’s Shia also is evidence of Iran’s theological commitment to counter Sunni Gulf State influence in the region.

The Pakistani International Shi’a Brigade fighting in Syria is the Zeynabiyoun or the Liwa Ahl Zeynab (the People of the House of Zeynab).     This unit of all Pakistanis draws volunteers from Pakistan’s Shi’a communities, especially from the Parachinar region of Kurram Agency.  Pakistanis from Quetta, and Karachi also are members. Despite the fact that the Shi’a are only about 15% of Pakistan’s predominately Sunni population, they are in the tens of millions. Some of these Shi’a hail from the following marginalized tribes such as: the Turi, Bohral, Balti, Ithna Ashariya, and Nizari Ismailis.

The deployment to Syria of Lebanon-based Hezbollah fighters and Iranian military advisors has accentuated the Shi'a profile of Assad’s allied coalition. Moreover, Iran is recruiting thousands of Afghan Shi’a fighters to fight alongside Assad’s military. One report indicates that Afghan Shi’a militia in Syria may include 20,000 Volunteers.  Another report claims that each recruit is paid $500 per month.  Most of these Afghan Shi’a are from the Hazarat region of Afghanistan which is in Bamian Province, in the central part of the country. The Hazara are ethnic descendants of the Mongols, almost all of whom are Shi’a.  The Hazara have an added incentive to volunteer for action in the global Sunni-Shi’a intra-religious war. They suffered the most of any of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups under Taliban rule.