On November 23, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said that the Syrian government should legalize the status of the National Defense Force (NDF).
Maj. Gen Jafari called the Syrian Parliament to pass a law to legalize the NDF. Jafari also said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “understands the importance of the NDF, and he will for sure make it legal to face any threats in the future”.
The Iranian-backed NDF was formed during 2012 after the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) suffered from heavy loses during the battles in northern and southern Syria. The NDF is legally a part of the Syrian Popular Army (SPA), a branch of the SAA. So, the NDF is already a legal force, according to the Syrian law.
However, the SPA is an “emergency force” that’s usually dismissed after the end of the war. Based on this, Maj Gen. Jafari likely meant that Syria should turn the NDF into an independent permanent force separated from the SAA, like the Iranian IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah.
The Syrian government may avoid doing this. The government is already working with Russia to strengthen the SAA again through supporting the SAA 5th Assault Corps and the Syrian intelligence special forces, like the Tiger Forces.
Moreover, turning the NDF into an independent force will mean that other sides in Syria will have an excuse to keep their own forces even if a political agreement is reached. Israel may even use this independent force as an excuse to conduct attacks against the Syrian government in the future, like has done in Lebanon many times.
Another factor that plays a role in the future of the NDF is the fact that most of the NDF fighters and commanders are secular. They fight to secure their areas from radical Islamists during the war. The majority of those fighters and commanders will likely refuse to adopt the NDF as carrier for the rest of their lives once the war is over
According to local sources, Damascus believes that unifying everyone under the SAA banner it will be able to build balanced relations with everyone in the region and avoid another war.