Archive for the ‘Iran and Hezbollah’ category

Why Iran Supports Palestinian Terror Groups

July 19, 2018


Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards General Gholamhossein Gheybparvar. (Image source: Tasnim via Wikimedia Commons)

by Khaled Abu Toameh
July 19, 2018 Gatestone Institute

Source Link: Why Iran Supports Palestinian Terror Groups

{Iran’s obsession with the destruction of Israel will be their undoing. – LS}

  • The Iranian general did not offer to build the Palestinians a hospital or a school. Nor did he offer to provide financial aid to create projects that would give jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His message to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Iran will give you as much money and weapons as you need as long as you are committed to the jihad (holy war) against Israel and the “big Satan,” the US.
  • The same Hamas that is telling UN representatives that it wants to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the one that is reaching out its hand to Iran to receive funds and weapons.
  • Now, someone needs to step in and stop Iran from setting foot in the Gaza Strip and using the Palestinians as cannon fodder in Tehran’s campaign against the US and Israel. How might someone do that? It is not so complicated. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip must be conditioned on ending Iran’s destructive effort to recruit Palestinians groups as its soldiers. It is that simple.

While the United Nations, Israel and the US are proposing plans to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Iran is pledging to continue its financial and military aid to Palestinian terror groups.

Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians is not new. The Iranians have long been providing Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups with money and weapons. Were it not for Iran’s support, the two groups, which do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, would not have been able to remain in power in the coastal enclave.

Iran’s support for the Palestinian terror groups has a twofold goal: first, to undermine the Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, and which Tehran sees as a pawn in the hands of the US and Israel; and second, to advance Iran’s goal of destroying Israel.

Just this week, we received yet another reminder of Iran’s true goal. The leader of Iran’s “Islamic Revolution,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the Palestinians will win over their enemies and will “see the day when the fake Zionist regime” vanishes. He said that US President Donald Trump’s “evil policy” is doomed to failure.

So, Iran does not care about the harsh conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Instead, its leaders are hoping that the Palestinians will live to see the day Israel is eliminated. This is also why Iran continues to support any Palestinian group that seeks to destroy Israel.

On the same day that Khamenei made his statement in Tehran, one of his senior generals, Gholamhossein Gheybparvar addressed a conference held in the Gaza Strip and Tehran simultaneously. Gheybparavar is a senior officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and commander of its Basij forces — the “Mobilization Resistance Force.” This force’s main mission is to suppress protests against the regime in Tehran.

In his speech via video conference, the Iranian general told representatives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups that he was “proud” of their “resistance” against Israel. He said that the conference, which was being held under the title, “Wet Gunpowder/Resistance Is Not Terrorism,” was an expression of Arab and Islamic unity against the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims. The Iranian general said that Iran and the “axis of resistance” were not afraid of Trump’s “threats.”

The Palestinian terror groups said after the conference that they were encouraged by the Iranian general’s pledge to support them in their fight against Israel and the US.

Khader Habib, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official in the Gaza Strip, said that the Iranian-Palestinian conference was both “symbolic and significant.” The conference, he said, served as a reminder that Iran continues to support the Palestinian “resistance” and would deter Israel from attacking the Gaza Strip in response to terror attacks on its citizens. The speech by the Iranian general, he added, was aimed at sending a message to the many countries to support the Palestinian “resistance” groups in the Gaza Strip. “Israel is a potential threat to the Arabs and Muslims,” Habib said.

Buoyed by the Iranian backing, several speakers at the conference called for the formation of a “unified Arab-Islamic front” against Israel and the US. They also stressed that the terror attacks against Israel would continue and praised Iran for its full support for the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

By promising to continue helping the Palestinian terror groups, Iran is offering the two million residents of the Gaza Strip more bloodshed and violence. The Iranian general did not offer to build the Palestinians a hospital or a school. Nor did he offer to provide financial aid to create projects that would give jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His message to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: Iran will give you as much money and weapons as you need, as long as you are committed to the jihad (holy war) against Israel and the “big Satan,” the US.

The Iranian message to the Palestinian terror groups came at a time when several international parties are trying to resolve the “humanitarian and economic” crisis in the Gaza Strip. These efforts are spearheaded by the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, who in recent weeks has been on a mission to prevent another war in the Gaza Strip.

These efforts are unlikely to succeed, however, as long as Iran continues its support of the Palestinian terror groups. Iran apparently wants to retain control over its Palestinian proxies to prevent any peace and stability between Arabs and Israel. Iran is not helping the terror groups out of love for the Palestinians, but in order to advance its goal of eliminating the “fake Zionist regime.”

If anyone is worried about the Iranian meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, it is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction. “We don’t want to become a pawn in the hands of Iran,” said Ra’fat Elayan, a senior Fatah official. “Iran is using Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a maneuvering card against Israel and the US, and this will have a negative impact on the just Palestinian cause. We have repeatedly warned the two groups of the Iranian intervention in Palestinian affairs.”

Meanwhile, it appears that Hamas wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, Hamas wants the international community to step in and help the people of the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Hamas wants Iran to continue funding its terrorism. The same Hamas that is telling UN representatives that it wants to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the one that is reaching out its hand to Iran to receive funds and weapons.

We can take a tip from Abbas’s and Fatah’s anxiety: If they are worried about Iran’s ongoing efforts to infiltrate the Palestinian arena, the US and the rest of the world need to find ways to stop Iran from using the Palestinians as a weapon in its battle to extend its control over more and more countries in the Middle East and carry out its deadly schemes.

Iran has brought nothing but disaster to Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. Now, someone needs to step in and stop Iran from setting foot in the Gaza Strip and using the Palestinians as cannon fodder in Tehran’s campaign against the US and Israel. How might someone do that? It is not so complicated. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip must be conditioned on ending Iran’s destructive effort to recruit Palestinians groups as its soldiers. It is that simple.

 

Hamas rockets are onset of anti-Israel war of attrition ordered by Iran’s Gen. Soleimani

December 14, 2017

Hamas rockets are onset of anti-Israel war of attrition ordered by Iran’s Gen. Soleimani, DEBKAfile, December 13, 2017

Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah are eager to see Israel trapped in a rising spiral of military tension – and not just from its border with the Gaza Strip, but also at some point, emanating from new war fronts in Lebanon and Syria. At present, they are not looking for a comprehensive conflagration, but rather to subject Israel to a creeping war of attrition, like the couple of rockets which the Palestinians are firing night after night from the Gaza Strip. Like Chinese drip torture, this campaign is intended to torment Israel while gradually escalating. It doesn’t matter if they are inaccurate and fail to cause Israel casualties of damage. Indeed, one of the rockets fired Wednesday night exploded in an UNWRA school at Beit Hanoun inside the northern Gaza Strip, wrecking a schoolroom.

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The Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza Wednesday night, Dec. 13, were the 12th and 13th since US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision on Dec.6.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the daily rocket assault from Gaza is turning into a war of attrition declared by three Palestinian extremist groups, Hamas, the Jihad Islami and the Popular Resistance Committees, on the orders of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods external terrorist arm, and supreme commander of Iranian forces in the region. Our sources reveal that the order was given Monday in a phone conversation Soleimani held with Marwan Issa, commander of the Hamas armed wing, the Ezz e-din al-Qassam. It was the first direct, phone conversation between a high-ranking Iranian general and the Hamas commander and it was deliberately overt. The Iranians wanted the Israeli and Egyptian intelligence agencies eavesdropping on incoming and outgoing phone calls to and from Gaza to hear Soleimani pledge full Iranian support for any military action conducted against Israel.

Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah are eager to see Israel trapped in a rising spiral of military tension – and not just from its border with the Gaza Strip, but also at some point, emanating from new war fronts in Lebanon and Syria. At present, they are not looking for a comprehensive conflagration, but rather to subject Israel to a creeping war of attrition, like the couple of rockets which the Palestinians are firing night after night from the Gaza Strip. Like Chinese drip torture, this campaign is intended to torment Israel while gradually escalating. It doesn’t matter if they are inaccurate and fail to cause Israel casualties of damage. Indeed, one of the rockets fired Wednesday night exploded in an UNWRA school at Beit Hanoun inside the northern Gaza Strip, wrecking a schoolroom.

The threat by Israel generals Wednesday night of painful retaliation if the rocket fire continues is therefore ineffective. Hamas and the Jihad Islami are fully prepared for a major war escalation, in the certainty that Iran and Hizballah have their backs.

Iran Looks to Seize Opportunity as Rivals Fall

December 13, 2017

Iran Looks to Seize Opportunity as Rivals Fall, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, December 13, 2017

(Please see also, Congress ignores Trump’s deadline on Iran nuclear deal. — DM)

Today, the Shi’ite axis is on the move. Iran is the mother ship, and its most prominent agent is Hizballah, which has more firepower at its disposal than most NATO members. The axis has tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia members active across Iraq and Syria. And it is preparing to expand.

The threat to international security posed by Iran far outweighs the one ever posed by ISIS.

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As it approaches victory in Syria with the help of Russian air power, Iran and its terrorist axis members are turning their attention to Israel, and trying to ignite fresh Palestinian violence.

Israel’s Channel 10 News reported on Monday evening that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force foreign operations unit, called the leaders Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, urging them to escalate attacks on Israel.

“There is huge Iranian pressure on the Palestinian factions to begin a maneuver,” the Channel 10 report said. “And [Hizballah chief Hassan] Nasrallah is calling for a third intifada.”

It is a clear sign that, as the ISIS caliphate is erased from the map, another radical Islamist force is gaining strength, this one many times more powerful. Radical Shi’ite forces backed by Iran are moving into the vacuum left behind by ISIS.

With confidence growing due to battlefield victories in Syria and Iraq, Iran and its radical proxies are seeking to take over the Palestinian arena as well, increasing terrorism against Israel.

In a speech delivered from Hizballah’s south Beirut stronghold of Dahiya on Monday, Hassan Nasrallah said his organization – which has evolved into a hybrid guerilla-terrorist army – and its allies would renew their focus on the Palestinians, following “victories elsewhere in the region,” Reuters reported.

Thousands of followers chanted “death to Israel,” as Nasrallah promised assistance to armed Palestinian factions and called on them to keep up their conflict with Israel.

These developments are the latest signs of a regional shift, which has left the Iranian axis as the dominant radical Islamist force in the region.

Only a few years ago, the Middle East was the battleground involving four rival blocs:

1. The Iranian-Shi’ite axis

2. The Salafi-jihadist ISIS camp

3. The Muslim Brotherhood bloc, and

4. The pragmatic Sunni coalition.

Today, only the pragmatic Sunnis and the Iranian-Shi’ite axis remain as major regional forces.

ISIS is reverting back to a decentralized terror network, while the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is decimated.

Saudi Arabia leads the moderate Sunni coalition of states, which are allies of the United States. This bloc views Israel as an ally too, out of a recognition that Iran is its real enemy, not the Jewish State.

Today, the Shi’ite axis is on the move. Iran is the mother ship, and its most prominent agent is Hizballah, which has more firepower at its disposal than most NATO members. The axis has tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia members active across Iraq and Syria. And it is preparing to expand.

In recent days, a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi militia member visited southern Lebanon, where Hizballah provided him with a tour of the Israeli border. The visit signals Iran’s intention to direct its regional assets against Israel.

Missiles, a nuclear program, and a growing terrorist influence

The core of the Shi’ite axis is the Islamic Republic of Iran itself, whose regime is guided by Shi’ite Islamist doctrine.

“The Islamic regime in Iran wants to fully implement the Islamic Shari’a. It will be the instrument that triumphs over the enemies of Islam,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei said last month.

Iran’s military industries are flush with cash, and they are mass producing powerful weapons. These arms don’t just stay in Iran – many are exported to Iran’s dangerous clients across the Middle East. . These are the forces moving into the vacuum left by Islamic State’s demise.

“I welcome the recent and great victories of the Islamic Revolution front against the front of lies and the destruction of the accursed regime of ISIS,” IRGC commander Mohammed Al Jafari said recently.

Iran wants to establish a continuous land corridor linking it to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Such a corridor would enable Iran to move fighters and weapons from its border all the way to the Mediterranean coast. It would run parallel to the air corridor used by Iran to traffic weapons and fighters from Iran to Syria and Lebanon.

The Shi’ite axis monopolizes political and military power in Lebanon, via Hizballah, and uses its proxy forces to heavily influence Syria and Iraq.

In addition, it wields heavy influence in Yemen, where the IRGC supports the Ansar Allah radical Houthi group, which recently said it fired a cruise missile at a nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The repeated use of surface-to-surface firepower by the Houthis against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia mimics tactics used by Hamas and Hizballah against Israel.

Terrorism under an Iranian nuclear umbrella?

The idea that the threat posed by the Iranian axis can be limited to the Middle East was recently disproven by Iran itself.

After European criticism of Iran’s ballistic missile program, officials threatened to increase Tehran’s ballistic missile ranges in order to reach Europe.

Israel, for its part, has vowed to stop the Iranian axis from taking over next-door Syria. A recent surge, according to media reports, of Israeli strikes on Iranian axis targets in Syria would seem to be evidence of Israel’s determination to challenge Iranian plans. Earlier this month, the strikes reportedly targeted an Iranian military base under construction south of Damascus, and the CERS weapons development and production site on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.

Yet the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, dormant for now, remains the elephant in the room.

A powerful Shi’ite axis operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella would pose a new level of threat to global security. Iranian-run terrorist networks and armed forces could operate with impunity if the Iranians reactivate their nuclear sites in the future, which they intend to do.

The threat to international security posed by Iran far outweighs the one ever posed by ISIS.

Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow

October 27, 2017

Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow, Israel Hayom, October 27, 2017

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah | Photo: Reuters

Washington considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization and has previously imposed sanctions on the group and its top commanders. The expected new sanctions come at a time when the Trump administration is increasing pressure on Iran, Hezbollah’s main backer that has been supplying the group with weapons and money for more than three decades.

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Hezbollah on Thursday denounced new U.S. measures designed to thwart the militant group’s cash flow, calling a bill targeting its finances an “aggression” against Lebanon.

In a statement, the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group said the new measures are a “blatant intervention in Lebanese internal affairs, a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and an unacceptable targeting of the Lebanese people.”

The statement was issued following a weekly meeting of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc. It came a day after the U.S. House approved legislation to block the flow of illicit money to the group and to sanction it, with lawmakers calling it Iran’s leading terrorist proxy.

The bill targeting Hezbollah’s finances, sponsored by Reps. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, directs the Trump administration to sanction people and businesses engaged in fundraising and recruitment activities for the group.

Hezbollah is a member of Lebanon’s coalition government, and the House measure touched off alarms in Beirut, where officials feared major damage to the country’s banking sector if the bill is signed into law.

Joseph Torbey, head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, told reporters earlier this week that U.S. officials reassured a Lebanese banking delegation who visited Washington recently that the sanctions will not target Lebanese banks as long as they abide by American regulations.

Washington considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization and has previously imposed sanctions on the group and its top commanders. The expected new sanctions come at a time when the Trump administration is increasing pressure on Iran, Hezbollah’s main backer that has been supplying the group with weapons and money for more than three decades.

A Hezbollah official earlier this month said that U.S. sanctions will not affect the operational activities of the group, calling it part of ongoing efforts to “demonize” Hezbollah.

In its statement Thursday, Hezbollah said the new measures “camouflaged” in legislation aims at subjugating Lebanon and warned against subservience or fear of such policies.

Newt Gingrich: State Dept. Has Listened to Iran More Than to ‘The Resistance’

October 24, 2017

Newt Gingrich: State Dept. Has Listened to Iran More Than to ‘The Resistance’, BreitbartPenny Starr, October 23, 2017

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Dentons

Gingrich detailed the Iran’s aspirations in a chilling laundry list:

You have a repressive dictatorship which projects power now all the way to the Mediterranean, has plans to build a port in Lebanon that it would control, has plans to build missile factories in both Syria and Lebanon, ultimately designed to destroy Israel, already has helped Hezbollah get something on the order of 75,000 to 100,000 missiles, creating I think a much bigger problem on the northern front for Israel than anybody has come to grips with yet.

“And it’s all going to get worse,” he added.

Gingrich also praised President Donald Trump on his decision to decertify the JCPOA nuclear deal, calling it “just about exactly the right path” and said that the president’s public remarks about Iran have been bold.

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WASHINGTON, DC – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) spoke to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on Friday about the danger posed by Iran and accused the U.S. State Department of listening to that dictatorship more than to those who seek a free and democratic Iran.

Gingrich said he has lobbied for the Iranian resistance movement in the U.S. and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) since he was the top Republican in the House.

Gingrich said:

Because basically the Iranian dictatorship ran a false flag operation to set up a totally phony designation, which the State Department and bureaucracy went along with, so for a long period of time we were willing to listen to the actual dictatorship while not listening to the resistance, even though the resistance was trying to tell us the truth about the dictatorship, which was lying to us.

Gingrich acknowledged that Iranians have suffered in exile in Iraq at Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf where thousands of members and sympathizers of MEK have been living for the past 25 years:

In my experience, the elements of the National Council of Resistance of Iran who are still inside Iran — and there are thousands of people who are obviously highly quiet about this otherwise they would be picked up by the secret police and killed — but they have been the best source of information on the nuclear program consistently, and have found things when the CIA has been telling us they didn’t exist.

Gingrich said, “And I hope that this administration will now be part of this process of beginning to unravel both the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps  (IRGC) and then, ultimately, the dictatorship.”

That unraveling should include the U.S. designating the IRGC a terrorist organization, which would have a direct impact on the Iranian economy, according to Gingrich.

Gingrich said in his remarks that the extent of the danger posed by Iran cannot be understated.

“As long as that dictatorship is in power, as long as it’s able to spend money, as long as it is able to project terrorism around the world, it is ultimately a mortal danger to the United States,” Gingrich said. “And of course, it was a terrible thing for the Iranian people.”

“A dictatorship which, in 1988, killed 30,000 people, something which for some reason The New York Times and The Washington Post don’t find to be horrifying,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich detailed the Iran’s aspirations in a chilling laundry list:

You have a repressive dictatorship which projects power now all the way to the Mediterranean, has plans to build a port in Lebanon that it would control, has plans to build missile factories in both Syria and Lebanon, ultimately designed to destroy Israel, already has helped Hezbollah get something on the order of 75,000 to 100,000 missiles, creating I think a much bigger problem on the northern front for Israel than anybody has come to grips with yet.

“And it’s all going to get worse,” he added.

Gingrich also praised President Donald Trump on his decision to decertify the JCPOAnuclear deal, calling it “just about exactly the right path” and said that the president’s public remarks about Iran have been bold.

That includes Trump’s speech to the United Nations, which Gingrich said was “probably the strongest condemnation of Iran, of the Iranian dictatorship, ever uttered in the United Nations.”

Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of NCRI, has welcomed the new U.S. policy to “condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights” in Iran and “to deny the Iranian regime and especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funding for its malign activities, and oppose IRGC activities that extort the wealth of the Iranian people.”

She said acknowledgment that supreme leader Ali Khamenei “oppresses its people, abuses their rights,” and “exports violence, destabilizes its neighbors, and sponsors terrorism abroad,” is a recognition of the illegitimacy of the Iranian regime.

The event was sponsored by the Organization of Iranian American Communities in the U.S.

German Intelligence: Hizballah Fighters Posing As Refugees

October 16, 2017

German Intelligence: Hizballah Fighters Posing As Refugees, Investigative Project on Terrorism, October 16, 2017

While the European Union, including Germany, designated Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist entity, Germany allows Hizballah’s political wing to operate freely. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization entirely. Even senior Hizballah officials have noted the futility in distinguishing between its political and military wings, acknowledging that Hizballah is a hierarchical organization with a clear chain of command. The organization’s terrorist and military wings answer to its senior leadership and political echelons, including Iran – its primary sponsor.

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Hizballah terrorists are exploiting Germany’s refugee policy and entered the country as part of the recent wave of Middle East migrants, according to the Jerusalem Post’s review of a German intelligence report released this month.

“Since mid-2015 there are increased indications of fighters from Shi’ite militias entering Germany as legal refugees,” the report says, and “roughly 50% [of the fighters] show a direct connection to Hezbollah.”

A growing number of Hizballah operatives are settling in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, the report says. The region hosts the Imam-Mahdi Center – a traditional hub for Hizballah operatives. The report also cites a growing and open Hamas presence in North Rhine-Westphalia, despite Germany’s terrorist designation of the Palestinian organization, where Hamas supporters exploit Germany to “collect funds” and “recruit new members to spread their propaganda.”

There are roughly 950 Hizballah members throughout Germany, according to a 2014 Berlin intelligence report summarized by the Jerusalem Post. Though the number of Hizballah supporters is believed to be far higher in Germany than listed in the report.

Radical Islamists are “the greatest danger to Germany…Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

Hizballah operatives serve as senior employees of a German government-funded theater project aimed to assist refugees in the country, a 2016 Berliner Zeitung daily report said.

Germany’s interior ministry previously accused Iran of conducting significant espionage activity in the country during the past decade, including plotting attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets.

For example, German prosecutors allege that Haidar Syed-Naqfi was ordered to identify Jewish and Israeli institutions in Germany and other Western European countries for potential terrorist attacks. He allegedly monitored the headquarters of a Jewish newspaper in Berlin and identified several Israel supporters. German authorities believe his preparations were “a clear indication of an assassination attempt.”

Between July 2015 and July 2016, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) al-Quds Force paid Syed-Naqi more than $2,200.

While the European Union, including Germany, designated Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist entity, Germany allows Hizballah’s political wing to operate freely. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization entirely. Even senior Hizballah officials have noted the futility in distinguishing between its political and military wings, acknowledging that Hizballah is a hierarchical organization with a clear chain of command. The organization’s terrorist and military wings answer to its senior leadership and political echelons, including Iran – its primary sponsor.

Syrian/Hizballah troops cross Euphrates to east

September 16, 2017

Syrian/Hizballah troops cross Euphrates to east, DEBKAfile, September 16, 2017

It is worth noting in this regard that, in recent weeks, Israel’s generals and colonels have suddenly dropped references in their discourse to Iran and Hizballah as existential threats.

This may be the time to remind them of an unfortunate precedent. In the months leading up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel’s leaders brushed aside the Egyptian and Syrian armies as threats to the state’s survival –  only to find defeat at their hands staring the IDF in the face in the early days of that war.

No less dangerous would be a war fought by the Syrian army, Hizballah and Iran, with powerful Russian military support. By establishing a foothold on both banks of the Euphrates River and both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Iran has taken a step towards pursuing its avowed goal of Israel’s destruction.

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Shortly after the US-led coalition threatened to strike any Syrian Arab Army units if they crossed the Euphrates River, Syrian and Hizballah troops were marching across imported Russian pontoon bridges to reach the river’s eastern bank. By Friday, Sept. 15 they were able to establish a bridgehead there.

The attached photo shows the pontoons being lifted and set in place in a manner which recalls the method by which the IDF  was able to cross the Suez Canal for a landing in Egypt towards the end of the 1973 war.

Throughout the three-day operation, the Syrians and Hizballah worked under the cover of more newly-arrived Russian armaments, the MiG-29SMT (Nato-codenamed “Fulcrum),  whose landing in Syria was announced on Wednesday. This twin-engine jet fighter aircraft is a match for the F-18 in service with the US Air Force as well as the Israeli Air force’s F-15, F-16 and F-16 fighters.

The day the MiG-29s arrived in Syria, British Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, Deputy Commander in Chief of the US-led Coalition in Syria, threatened to strike any units of the SAA if they crossed the Euphrates River.

The crossing operation, as well as deepening Russia’s military involvement in Syrian and Hizballah offensives, is a major boost for Iran’s objectives, with grave strategic implications for the US and Israel.

1. For the Trump administration, it trampled the principle Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin established exactly two years ago, i.e., for eastern Syrian across the Euphrates to be assigned to American military control and the west to the Russians.

2.  US satellites and reconnaissance planes watched the Russian army trucking the pontoons east and saw them being thrown over the river for the crossing. Nonetheless, no orders came from the White House or the Pentagon to make good on the coalition’s threat of a strike and to interfere.

3. Established on the east bank of the Euphrates, Syrian and Hizballah troops are in position to go forward for the operation to capture the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kamal from ISIS. They have moreover opened the way to link up with the Iraqi Population Mobilization Units (PMU), a surrogate of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

4. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that PMU units are already heading for this rendezvous on the Iraqi-Syrian border. This step is tantamount to opening up an Iranian-controlled military corridor between Iraq and Syria by cutting deep into the US-ruled region of eastern Syria.

5.  As recently as Thursday night, Sept. 14, President Donald Trump declared: “We are not going to stand for what they [Iran] are doing “

6.  The US president was not alone in refraining from lifting a finger to stop “what they are doing.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu likewise chose words over deeds. “Israel would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its northern border with Syria,” he reiterated Friday, Sept. 14, on his arrival in New York to address the UN General Assembly and meet Donald Trump.

But already Iran and its pawns were creating an accomplished fact, with massive logistical and military assistance from the Russian army.

It is worth noting in this regard that, in recent weeks, Israel’s generals and colonels have suddenly dropped references in their discourse to Iran and Hizballah as existential threats.

This may be the time to remind them of an unfortunate precedent. In the months leading up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel’s leaders brushed aside the Egyptian and Syrian armies as threats to the state’s survival –  only to find defeat at their hands staring the IDF in the face in the early days of that war.
No less dangerous would be a war fought by the Syrian army, Hizballah and Iran, with powerful Russian military support. By establishing a foothold on both banks of the Euphrates River and both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Iran has taken a step towards pursuing its avowed goal of Israel’s destruction.