ANALYSIS: How Iran Continues Its Israel Project
The new US administration is making all the same old mistakes, increasing the likelihood of direct armed conflict
While the Administration of US President Joe Biden decided to re-engage Iran over the 2015 landmark nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and six world powers (JCPOA), Israel is warning the US against the move.
Last week, Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi called his American counterpart Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and warned him that the US Administration should take into account that Iran was further destabilizing the Middle East.
“We discussed regional strategic issues and Iran’s perpetual and intensifying violations of its nuclear commitment, as well as Iran and its proxies’ regional activities which escalate and undermine the stability of the Middle East,” Ashkenazi later wrote on Twitter.
Below we will take Syria as an example of these destabilizing Iranian actions and will show that they are a part of Iran’s “Israel project.”
Iran is continuing its entrenchment in the warn-torn country via its proxies Hezbollah and other Shiite militias that were brought into the Syrian fray by Qassem Soleimani, the slain commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The best example is Iranian ally Hezbollah that has at least 58 bases in southern Syria and is continuing to turn the region in a bulwark of the so-called ‘resistance’ movement.
This anti-Israel coalition of Iranian-backed Shiite militias is slowly taking over the border area with Israel and is attempting to get rid of the local Sunni population by confiscating real estate and by drugging the desperate Sunnis.
Syria Direct, a local Syrian news outlet, reported last week that Hezbollah is buying or confiscating houses that were abandoned by owners who fled to the northeastern Syrian Province of Idlib or moved abroad due to the hostilities in their hometown.
Syria Direct gave the example of a woman called Marwa who lost her husband during the civil war and fled to Idlib. Her husband’s brother then sold her house to a Hezbollah terrorist and the woman had no possibility to go to Damascus to re-claim her property.
Even when she would have had the ability to travel to Damascus she would have found that the Assad regime is accessory to the practices of Hezbollah and itself illegally seizes property abandoned by refugees.
Then there was a report by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) regarding widespread drug smuggling by Hezbollah. According to the report residents of the southern region in Syria publicized the drug smuggling via graffiti on walls in al-Suwayda or the Druze Mountain.
One of the paintings on the walls of al-Suwayda read:
“The gangs of al-Suwayda + Security Services + Hezbollah = the cause of al-Suwayda’s problems – Hezbollah sells drugs. One kilo of drugs + Hezbollah = resistance. The south of Syria is the graveyard of Hezbollah and Iran. The most important thing is that Bashar (al-Assad) remained in power regardless the collapse of the country.”
Back in February, the SOHR reported widespread use of drugs, mainly hashish and narcotic pills, throughout Syrian territory.
The hashish is smuggled by Hezbollah from Lebanon and then sold to jobless Syrians, while 14 factories in Syria produce the narcotic pills.
Hezbollah has enlisted local drug dealers who wait for their clients on the corners of streets and don’t hesitate to sell the drugs to children. Officers and soldiers of the Syrian National Defense Forces (NDF) are accomplices in the drug business.
The Russian military police is the only force that tries to stop the production of the narcotic pills and recently carried out a raid on a warehouse where drugs were stored.
Last week, an armed clash took place in the Qalamoun Province between members of Hezbollah and NDF soldiers that left seven of the participants in the battle injured. The battle began after a dispute over the profits of the drug trafficking erupted.
Other evidence that Iran via its proxies in Syria is expanding its entrenchment in the country also came from the SOHR.
The London-based Syria watchdog reported that another Iranian proxy, the Afghan Shiite militia Liwa Fatemiyoun, is taking control over large swaths of territory in Syria.
The Afghan militia has recruited no less than 710,315 Syrians, among them ex-NDF soldiers and officers. Liwa Fatemiyoun is offering unusually high salaries and this might explain the huge number of recruits.
The deployment of the Afghan militia is part of the struggle between Iran and Russia over who will control Syria. But eventually, these forces will be used against Israel.
In Israel, meanwhile, there are several security and intelligence experts who warn against Iran’s plan to enter into a confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) via a multi-front operation.
Such an operation would involve the Syrian Iranian-backed militias, the Ansar Allah or Houthi militia in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Considering the fact that all these groups are in possession of large quantities of guided missiles, it could be that Israel’s air defenses will not be able to fully protect Israeli cities and the IDF’s military infrastructure.
The former chief of IDF Military Intelligence, Aharon Ze’evi Farkash, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post last week that it is not the fact that Hezbollah has 150,000 rockets, but it’s ability to fire thousands of them each day that is the biggest problem.
Farkash said that the Israeli military will not be able to cope with thousands of rockets every day. He also said that Israel has no long-term strategy in the war against Iran, but that the Islamic Republic does.
Another serious problem that the Israeli military is facing is a deal between Iran and the Assad regime regarding the delivery of the Iranian version of the Russian S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. If the delivery of these systems goes through, the Israel Air Force (IAF) may no longer have the same operational freedom as now in Syria.
It is fair to assume that Ashkenazi and other Israeli officials have briefed the Biden Administration about the malignant activities of Iran not only in Syria but also in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, where Iran is blocking the forming of a technocratic government and tries to take over the country.
Nevertheless, the new US government continues to shun its traditional allies such as the Arab Gulf States and seems to be blinded by the prospect that negotiations with Iran about its nuclear weapons program will improve the situation.
So, Saudi Arabia has been criticized over its human rights record but Iran, which has an abysmal history of human rights abuses, is treated with kid gloves.
The Biden Administration could not even bring itself to utter the words ‘Abraham Accords’ when it officially reacted to the exchange of ambassadors between Israel and Bahrain, as well as the United Arab Emirates.
Instead it stated that it will continue to help support these “important arrangements.”
It may not seem significant, but Iran is very upset over the Abraham Accords, the peace agreements between Israel and the UAE, as well as Bahrain. These agreements have brought Israel close to Iran’s border, something that is seen by the mullahs in Tehran as a direct threat.
The US Administration now seems to make the same mistake as former US President Barack Obama did, namely appeasing Iran in the hope it will be possible to turn it into a normal country that will abide by international law and a new nuclear accord.
At the same time, President Biden and his team ignore Iran’s malignant activities in several countries and even removed the Ansar Allah militia in Yemen from the US list of terror organizations.