Posted tagged ‘Iranian Revolutionary Guards’

Iran Pressuring Palestinian Jihadists to Resume Anti-Israel Terrorism

November 17, 2016

EXCLUSIVE – Source: Iran Pressuring Palestinian Jihadists to Resume Terrorism Against Israel

by Aaron Klein and Ali Waked

17 Nov 2016

Source: Iran Pressuring Palestinian Jihadists to Resume Anti-Israel Terrorism

Warrick Page/Getty

TEL AVIV – Iran has been prodding Palestinian jihadists to resume hostilities against Israel, a Palestinian security official told Breitbart Jerusalem.

He said that Palestinian security services have noticed increased efforts on the part of the Iran-financed Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Gaza to recruit West Bank operatives, especially in and around the cities of Hebron and Jenin.

Palestinian Authority officials have been prevented from operating in Gaza since the 2007 coup in which Hamas seized control of the territory, but according to intelligence collected by the PA, Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials have pressured Islamic Jihad to set up a terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank.

The official states that Iran, encouraged by Hamas’ success in restoring its infrastructure in the West Bank, charged Hezbollah with recruiting militants formerly associated with Fatah’s military wing, and has more recently turned to Islamic Jihad in hopes that the terror group would rebuild its own West Bank infrastructure, which was left in ruins at the end of the second intifada.

Last week, the Israeli media reported that members of an Islamic Jihad cell were arrested after they planned to carry out an attack on a wedding in the south of Israel and kidnap soldiers.

Among the detainees were an Islamic Jihad operative who was arrested upon attempting to enter Israel as an international businessman, two Palestinians who resided in Israel illegally, and an Arab Israeli man.

The Palestinian official said that the Islamic Jihad operative’s cover was blown when he insisted on entering Israel despite having lost contact with his collaborators, who had been arrested.

“It’s unclear why he didn’t suspect that the reason they disappeared was that they had been arrested,” he said. “For two weeks they were in detention, and he all the same insisted on reaching the Erez Crossing, between Gaza and Israel.”

He said that Iran’s attempts to rekindle Islamic Jihad’s terrorist activity are likely to continue.

He also said that an Islamic Jihad activist who was recently arrested near Jenin said that he had been recruited by Gaza operatives and told interrogators that some of the group’s funds originated in Iran.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Iran’s elite Rev Guards units routed by ISIS in the Al Safira pre-battle for Aleppo

October 30, 2015

Iran’s elite Rev Guards units routed by ISIS in the Al Safira pre-battle for Aleppo, DEBKAfile, October 30, 2015


The battle for Al-Safira, 20 km. south of Aleppo – and the key to its capture – will go down in Iran’s Revolutionary history as the most humiliating defeat its elite forces have sustained in all its 36 years. This week, Iran sent into battle outside its borders 2,000 of its best-trained, loyal and well-equipped combat troops, detached from six elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) units.The battle at Al-Safira, fought with Russian air cover alongside Hizballah and Syrian army forces, was supposed to be the turning point in the Syrian civil war. Its objective was to break through Islamic State and Nusra Front defense lines around Al-Safira, and knock over the positions the Islamists had erected for blocking the roads from Aleppo and central Syria to Damascus, among them Route 5, the main highway. After that, they planned to advance on Aleppo.

Their offensive had the opposite result.

Fighters from ISIS and the Nusra Front stopped the Iranian and Syrian troops in their tracks and forced them to abandon the sections they held along the main transportation routes leading to Aleppo. So not only did the Iranian-led army fail to clear the way to this key city, but they were driven back by ISIS fighters, who took control of the 20-kilometer route from Al-Safira to Aleppo. The day ended with the jihadis in position to tighten the siege on both cities.

On Thursday, Oct. 29, ISIS followed up on its victory by seizing control of the eastern neighborhoods of Al-Safira and advancing towards the center of the city.

The losses sustained by the IRGC, which spearheaded the ground attack, were heavy, mostly in the fighting in the rural area south of Aleppo.

How could this happen to Tehran’s supposedly formidable forces?

Iran’s death toll in the battle for Aleppo may never be known, but the numbers of officers and enlisted men who died was so high and the shock effect so extreme that IRGC Deputy Commander, Gen. Hossein Salami had to call a live news conference on Iran’s state-run television Wednesday, Oct. 28, to explain why his country came to be involved in the Syrian war.

He depicted Syria as “the front line in the battle against Western forces, particularly the US… which is seeking to implement a destructive plan in the Arab world.” He then argued: “Had Iran not intervened, the chaos would have spread into Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere.”

But DEBKAfile’s military sources point out that this explanation offered no answer to the main question troubling Iran’s leaders and the IRGC command: On what grounds can they continue to boast that Iran’s army is capable of destroying the US military within 10 days, and the IDF in one day, when Iran’s special forces, armored corps, urban warfare units and airborne brigades, backed by the Russian air force, not only failed to rout ISIS forces, but were humiliated into retreating from their strategic positions amid heavy losses?

DEBKAfile has obtained the list of the six elite Iranian brigades which sent units to the Al-Safira battle for Aleppo:

The Saberin brigade, a Special Operations unit established in 1992 to fight Kurdish and Arab guerillas with separatist aspirations. Most of its fighters are from Tehran,

The Fatemyoun brigade, consisting entirely of Afghan Shiites. Their regular duty was to guard the Tomb of Zeynab, a Shiite shrine in the suburbs of Damascus. But a month ago, the IRGC expanded the brigade to division strength of 15,000 fighters for front-line combat in Syria and Iraq.

Brigade 15 – or the Emam Hassan Mojtaba Brigade. Made up of fighters from central Iran, the brigade specializes in guerilla and urban warfare.

Independent brigade 83, or the Emam Jaafar Saydeq Brigade. This is an airborne unit whose fighters are rated as the toughest, most merciless and religiously motivated of all IRGC contingents. Not surprisingly, they come from Qom province, whose center, the city of Qom,  houses Iran’s clerical establishment and is the most important Shiite site after the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq.

Brigade 33, or the Al-Mahdi Brigade. This is another airborne unit with extensive experience in guerrilla warfare, which is based in the city of Jahrom.

The Ahwaz Armored Brigade, or the Hazrat-Hojjat Brigade. Its fighters come from the largely Arab-speaking and constantly restive province of Khuzestan in southeastern Iran. The brigade was upgraded recently with advanced weapons systems for fighting in Syria, Iraq, or any other neighboring country.

The six Revolutionary Guards brigades were held up proudly as Iran’s finest fighting units, the invincible bulwark of the revolutionary Islamic regime in Tehran against the mightiest of its enemies. The vast gap between their performance and the ayatollahs’ fiery rhetoric is bound to redound on the authorities in Tehran which sent them into battle.

Iran’s Soleimani visits Syrian Golan as Tehran bolsters war effort

October 15, 2015

Iran’s Soleimani visits Syrian Golan as Tehran bolsters war effort Powerful head of Tehran’s Quds Force in Syria to oversee new push against anti-Assad rebels, visits near border to boost morale of troops after setbacks

By Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel staff and AP

October 15, 2015, 8:57 am

Source: Iran’s Soleimani visits Syrian Golan as Tehran bolsters war effort | The Times of Israel

Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (YouTube/BBC Newsnight)

Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (YouTube/BBC Newsnight)

ranian general Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the country’s expeditionary al-Quds Force, visited the Syrian side of the Golan in recent days, The Times of Israel has learned.

Soleimani, a powerful figure thought to be at the forefront of Iranian fighting abroad, is in Syria to oversee a new offensive by Iranian and Assad regime troops meant to help the government retake large swaths of the country’s north.

His visit to the Golan, near the border with Israel, was apparently intended to boost morale of Syrian and Hezbollah forces – the latter loyal to Iran’s regime — after a series of setbacks against the “southern front” of rebel groups in the area.

By Wednesday, Soleimani was in the Latakia province, on the Mediterranean coast north of Lebanon, from which the northern operation is expected to launch, backed by the recent influx of Russian air power.

A regional official and Syrian activists said Wedneday that hundreds of Iranian troops were being deployed in northern and central Syria, dramatically escalating Tehran’s involvement in the civil war as they join allied Hezbollah fighters in an ambitious offensive to wrest key areas from rebels amid Russian airstrikes.

The official, who has deep knowledge of operational details in Syria, said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards — currently numbering around 1,500 — began arriving about two weeks ago, after the Russian airstrikes began, and have accelerated recently. The Iranian-backed group Hezbollah has also sent a fresh wave of fighters to Syria, he told The Associated Press.

Iranian and Syrian officials have long acknowledged Iran has advisers and military experts in Syria, but denied there were any ground troops. Wednesday’s statements were the first confirmation of Iranian fighters taking part in combat operations in Syria.

The main goal is to secure the strategic Hama-Aleppo highway and seize the key rebel-held town of Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province, which Assad’s forces lost in April to insurgents that included al-Qaida’s Nusra Front.

The loss of Jisr al-Shughour, followed by the fall of the entire province, was a resounding defeat for Assad, opening the way for rebels to threaten his Alawite heartland in the coastal province of Latakia. The official suggested the Syrian army’s alarmingly tenacious position around that time is what persuaded the Russians to join the fray and begin airstrikes two weeks ago.

The Syrian government and Iran had been asking Russia to intervene for a year, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss military affairs. He said the Russian “tsunami wave” has given allies such as Iran the cover to operate more freely in Syria.

His account of Iranian troops arriving ties in with reports from Syrian opposition activists, who reported a troop buildup in the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported Wednesday that Iranian troops were arriving and being transported to a military base in the coastal town of Latakia, in the town of Jableh outside the provincial capital.

At least two senior Iranian commanders were killed in Syria in recent days, including Gen. Hossein Hamedani, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander, who died Oct. 8 near Aleppo.

“Syria will witness big victories in coming days,” said Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, speaking Monday at Hamedani’s funeral.

The Quds Force is the de facto overseas operational arm of the of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is separate from Iran’s national military force.

Israeli officials have accused the IRGC of trying to build an anti-Israel front on the Syrian Golan, alongside Hezbollah forces and local Druze opposed to Israel.

On January 18, a reported Israeli air strike on the Syrian Golan targeting a Hezbollah cell there killed six Hezbollah fighters and an IRGC brigadier general, Mohammed Ali Allahdadi. Allahdadi was said to be involved in helping to build up the operational capabilities of Hezbollah’s burgeoning Golan presence.

Soleimani himself traveled to Lebanon the following day to meeting with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and visit the graves of the Hezbollah fighters killed in the strike.

Reports from late January claimed that a cross-border Hezbollah reprisal attack the following week, in which two IDF soldiers were killed and seven injured, was planned by two Quds Force officers appointed by Soleimani.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards: UN resolution endorsing nuclear deal crosses Iran’s red lines

July 20, 2015

Iranian Revolutionary Guards: UN resolution endorsing nuclear deal crosses Iran’s red lines

via Iranian Revolutionary Guards: UN resolution endorsing nuclear deal crosses Iran’s red lines – Middle East – Jerusalem Post.


A UN Security Council resolution endorsing Iran’s nuclear deal that passed on Monday is unacceptable, the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammed Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

“Some parts of the draft have clearly crossed the Islamic republic’s red lines, especially in Iran’s military capabilities. We will never accept it,” he was quoted as saying shortly before the resolution was passed in New York.

The United Nations Security Council on Monday endorsed the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but it will be able to re-impose UN penalties during the next decade if Tehran breaches the historic agreement.

The 15-member body unanimously adopted a resolution that was negotiated as part of the agreement reached in Vienna last week between Iran and the world’s major powers.

In return for lifting US, EU and UN sanctions, Iran will be subjected to long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West suspected was aimed at creating an atomic bomb, but which Tehran says is peaceful.

Passage of the resolution triggers a complex set of coordinated steps agreed by Iran during nearly two years of talks with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union.

It says that no sanctions relief will be implemented until the International Atomic Energy Agency submits a report to the Security Council verifying that Iran has taken certain nuclear-related measures outlined in the agreement.

Under the deal, the major powers don’t need to take any further action for 90 days. Then they are required to begin preparations so they are able to lift sanctions as soon as the IAEA verification report is submitted.

The European Union approved the Iran nuclear deal with world powers on Monday. US President Barack Obama’s administration has sent the nuclear agreement to Congress, which has the next 60 days to review it.

Once sanctions relief can be implemented, seven previous UN resolutions will be terminated and the measures contained in the resolution adopted on Monday will come into effect.

The resolution allows for supply of ballistic missile technology and heavy weapons, such as tanks and attack helicopters, to Iran with Security Council approval, but the United States has pledged to veto any such requests.

The restrictions on ballistic missile technology are in place for eight years and on heavy weapons for five years. The resolution leaves in place an arms embargo on conventional weapons for five years.

The resolution places restrictions on the transfer to Iran of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes for a decade.

It allows all UN sanctions to be re-imposed if Iran breaches the deal in the next 10 years. If the Security Council receives a complaint of a breach it would then need to vote within 30 days on a resolution to extend sanctions relief.

If the council fails to vote on a resolution, the sanctions would be automatically re-imposed. This procedure prevents any of the veto powers who negotiated the accord, such as Russia and China, from blocking any snap-back of Iran sanctions.

All the provisions and measures of the UN resolution would terminate in a decade if the nuclear deal is adhered to.

However, the six world powers and the EU wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week to inform him that after 10 years they plan to seek a five-year extension of the mechanism allowing sanctions to be re-imposed.

Over 7,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq to compensate for Maliki’s ouster not to fight ISIS

December 28, 2014

(Interesting if accurate. A few sometimes reliable sources are cited, but without links. — DM)

Original posted by Dan Miller

Over 7,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq to compensate for Maliki’s ouster not to fight ISIS, National Council of Resistance of Iran, December 26, 2014

suleimani-ameriQassem Suleimani and Hadi al-Ameri head of Badr Organization

The objective of mullahs in dispatching revolutionary guards and strengthening militias is not to fight ISIS but to compensate for the decisive blow of Nouri al-Maliki’s ouster and to consolidate dominion of velayat-e faqih caliphate over Iraq

NCRI – The Iranian Resistance warns of the escalating presence of the criminal revolutionary guards of the terrorist Qods Force (QF) in Iraq that is a blatant breach of UN Security Council resolutions and underscores that their objective is not to fight ISIS, but to compensate for the heavy blow caused by Maliki’s ouster and to consolidate the velayat-e faqih caliphate in Iraq.

The slaughter and forced migration, along with aggression against the Iraqi people, in particular the Sunnis, and ridding them of their property by the revolutionary guards and their affiliated militias under the pretext of fighting ISIS has endangered peace and security throughout the region and fuels the machine of extremism and terrorism in the whole region.

1. According to Resistance’s information from inside the regime, the number of revolutionary guards of the QF now reaches 7000 in Iraq. A large number of them have been stationed in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces and the cities of Samarra, Karbala, Najaf, Khaneqain, Sa’adiyah and Jaloula. A great number of commanders and experts from the revolutionary guards accompany the terrorist militias in various areas of Iraq. Regime’ fighter jets have been flying in Iraq since early November and are currently carrying out military missions in Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces.

2. The extent of this meddling is such that mullahs’ Defense Minister Dehqan stated on December 20: “In the realm of weapons and equipment, usually their governments (Iraq and Syria) purchase from us and in the realms of training and advising we are serving the armies and resistance forces of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.” He added: The presence of Qasem Soleimani in Iraq “is to offer advice, guidance and training… the people who have gone there are to advise and offer training to help out with organizing and training and to offer advice on operational plans”.

3. The clerical regime and the QF that had brought Iraq under their hidden occupation in a step by step manner since 12 years ago, had taken over all aspects of that country through their proxy prime minister. Subsequent to the initiation of the popular uprising against Maliki in January 2013, they broadened their interference to suppress the uprising and to strengthen their hand in Iraq.

4. Since January 2014 that Maliki initiated the Anbar conflict and suffered a severe defeat in the hands of the people and tribes of that region, the Iranian regime felt imperiled and thus the presence of the QF in Iraq took on new dimensions. Mohammad Hejazi, Deputy for Logistics in regime’s General Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces, announced that the clerical regime is prepared to offer Iraq equipment and consultation (IRNA News Agency – January 5, 2014).

5. In February 2014, a number of QF commanders who had participated in the slaughter of the Syrian people went to Iraq to pass on their experiences in trainings to the Iraqi forces. Intimately and directly they transferred their experience in Iran and Syria to Ali Qaidan, the at the time Commander of the Army, and Fadhil Barwari, the Commander of the Golden (Dirty) Division. They primarily order to Maliki to establish a Basij-like force. They noted that they had initiated the civil defense in Syria which is capable of saving Assad’s regime; the classical army is designed to fight an external war and is useless in guerrilla warfare.

6. During this period, the QF beefed up the terrorist militia groups under its command such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Badr Corps and dispatched them to Anbar Province, especially to Ramadi and Garmeh regions. Their first task was to pump morale into Maliki’s military. Since March 2014, 15-day training courses were arranged for these militias in Iran; the same thing that the regime had initiated two years ago for the mercenaries who were dispatched to Syria.

7. In March 2014, the QF sent some trainers from the Lebanese Hezbollah to Iraq to organize and train the militias and concurrently sent all types of weapons and equipment in an attempt to organize a powerful force capable of preserving the power in the hands of Maliki and Iranian regime’s elements.

8. Since late March 2014, the militias who had been equipped and organized in orderly units and were accompanied by QF commanders were deployed in battlefields and specific defensive lines were trusted to them. The Garmeh region until Zaidan and Baghdad Beltway from Taramiyah to Abu Ghoraib was given to Asa’ib militias; Fallujah and Baghdad Beltway from south of the airport to Yousefiyah was given to the Kata’ib terrorist group; and the Badr forces were deployed to the west of Fallujah and Ramadi. A division composed of the militias was organized to be deployed in Baghdad’s Beltway from Taramiyah to Madaen, west of Baghdad. Maliki and the QF jointly provided their equipment. Special equipment, bombs and missiles were transferred to Najaf and Baghdad through air transport with coordination by Hadi Ameri, Iraq’s at the time Minister of Transportation, to be transferred subsequently to these forces.

9. During this period, the commanders of the QF were placed in active liaison and direct coordination with Maliki’s army and police commanders and a joint Tactical Operating Center (TOC) was set up in Anbar. IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, Qasem Soleimani’s “supreme advisor”, and a number of other commanders of the QF were deployed in Iraq. In addition, “Esmail Qa’ani Akbarnejad”, Deputy to Qasem Soleimani, regularly travelled to Iraq to supervise the situation.

10. Following the disintegration of Maliki’s army on June 10 and as Ninawa and Salah ad-Din slipped from his hands, the QF dispatched its command system to Iraq in a matter of hours. In the early days of this development, over 2000 seasoned revolutionary guards entered Iraq who were primarily tasked to Baghdad’s Beltway. Others were deployed in Diyala. Concurrently, people from IRGC Air Force were deployed in Diyala, Salah ad-Din and Kurdistan to collect information and direct drones. The number of revolutionary guards continues to rise and has now reached 7000.

11. At this stage, Soleimani used Abu Mehdi Mohandess, the known terrorist, as his Deputy of Operations in Iraq and commander of the militias and formed a special TOC for coordinating the militias in Baghdad. The military and security responsibility for Diyala was given to Hadi Ameri, Maliki’s Minister of Transportation. These two are both in the list of 32000 employees of IRGC in Iraq. This is the list that the Iranian Resistance exposed back in 2006.

12. To compensate for the sidelining of Maliki and regain former status, the clerical regime ramped up the presence of the QF in August and the presence of Qasem Soleimani increased, especially in battlefields such as Amerli, Jarf al-Sakhar, Sa’adiyah and Jaloula. In order to build up the morale of its defeated mercenaries, regime’s Farsi and Arabic speaking media staged a noisy propaganda campaign about the presence of Soleimani and the IRGC in Iraq.

13. During this period, organizing the “popular Basij” forces was left to the militias and the QF. In an interview with al-Iraqiya state TV on December 22, Maliki’s National Security Advisor Faleh Fayad stipulated that there are a number of “Iranian advisors” within the “popular Basij” forces.

14. The objective of IRGC and the militias is not to fight ISIS, but to exploit on the present situation and consolidate their grip on Iraq. That is why the massacres, aggressions, forced migration of populations, and ridding the Sunnis of their property that have been ongoing by these forces since 2003 took on unprecedented dimensions in the recent months. In an interview on December 1st with the official website of Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), Sheik Jafar, KDP’s official in Khaneqain, said: “The actions of Shia militias is like ISIS or even worse. They are experts in killing, burning and looting. They have disrupted 90% of Sa’adiyah and looted and burned all its places… Their objective is to expand their rule and influence… They rarely use the Iraqi flag and mostly hoist a flag that carries the emblem of the Islamic Republic of Iran… They have initiated purging of all Sunnis and kill people anywhere they can… These forces blew up people’s homes under the pretext of neutralizing mines and explosives.”

15. In a shocking report on December 15, the Al-Jazeera TV unveiled the bombing of Sunni areas and forcible displacement of the Sunnis in Iraq including in Diyala and Salah ad-Din and especially in Samarra, various districts of Baghdad and its suburbs such as Mahmoudiyah, Arab Jabour, Jarf-al-Sakhar, Yousefiyah, Latifiyah, Abu Ghraib, Taji and Moshahedeh by the militias affiliated with the QF. The number of forcibly displaced people in Baghdad reaches one million. A resident of Jarf-al-Sakhar testified, “Militias burn homes, arrest the youth, and kill them in undisclosed locations… No Sunni family is left in Jarf-al-Sakhar. They arrest young and old men, forcibly displace the families, and kill them… We are witnessing the beginning of an Iranian caliphate just as ISIS has announced its caliphate.”

16. On 14 October 2014, in a detailed report titled “Absolute impunity, Militia rule in Iraq”, Amnesty International underscored the affiliation of the militias to the Iranian regime and wrote:
• The growing power of Shi’a militias has contributed to an overall deterioration in security and an atmosphere of lawlessness.
• Shi’a militias are ruthlessly targeting Sunni civilians on a sectarian basis under the guise of fighting terrorism, in an apparent bid to punish Sunnis for the rise of the IS and for its heinous crimes.
• Scores of unidentified bodies have been discovered across the country handcuffed and with gunshot wounds to the head, indicating a pattern of deliberate execution-style killings.
• Militia members, numbering tens of thousands, wear military uniforms, but they operate outside any legal framework and without any official oversight.
• By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart.
• Successive Iraqi governments have displayed a callous disregard for fundamental human rights principles. The new government must now change course and put in place effective mechanisms to investigate abuses by Shi’a militias and Iraqi forces and hold accountable those responsible.

17. On 18 September 2014, the Foreign Policy website in an article titled “Iraq’s Shiite militias are becoming as great a danger as the Islamic State” wrote: “These groups, many of which have deep ideological and organizational links to Iran… are actively recruiting — drawing potential soldiers away from the Iraqi army and police and bringing fighters into highly ideological, anti-American, and rabidly sectarian organizations. Many of these trainees are not simply being used to push back Sunni jihadists, but in many cases form a rear guard used to control districts that are supposedly under Baghdad’s control…In early June, Shiite militias, along with Iraqi security forces, reportedly executed around 255 prisoners, including children…The growth of these pro-Iranian Shiite militias, and many more like them, helps demonstrate Iran’s goals for the domination of Shiite Iraq. These groups not only benefit from Iran’s patronage and organizational capabilities — they also all march to Tehran’s ideological tune. They are loyal to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s ideology of absolute wilayat-e faqih.”

18. On September 16, New York Times wrote: “‘We break into an area and kill the ones who are threatening people,’ said one 18-year-old fighter with Asaib Ahl al-Haq… insisting that their militia commanders had been given authority by Iraqi security officials… This militia was once a leading killer of American troops … Alla Maki, a Sunni lawmaker said that under former Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, Asaib Ahl al-Haq was ‘encouraged to do dirty jobs like killing Sunnis, and they were allowed to operate freely. Now the international community are all being inspired by the removal of Maliki personally, but the policy is still going on’… So far, though, there is no sign of any official attempts to investigate even the most publicized allegations of extrajudicial killings of Sunnis by Asaib Ahl al-Haq.”

While the world watches IS, Iran quietly advances

October 17, 2014

While the world watches IS, Iran quietly advances‘

Moderate’ Tehran is gaining control over larger chunks of territory — Lebanon, parts of Syria and Iraq, and now Yemen, where a vital Israeli sea route is now threatened

By Avi Issacharoff

October 17, 2014, 1:43 pm

via While the world watches IS, Iran quietly advances | The Times of Israel.


Armed Yemeni Shiite Houthi anti-government rebels sit in the back of a pick-up truck as they drive near the state television compound in the capital of Sana'a, September 21, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Mohammed Huwais)
Armed Yemeni Shiite Houthi anti-government rebels sit in the back of a pick-up truck as they drive near the state television compound in the capital of Sana’a, September 21, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Mohammed Huwais)

hile the entire world follows breathlessly the battles between Kurdish forces and the Islamic State in Kobani, the Syrian city on the border between Turkey and Syria, Iran is slowly completing an impressive takeover of Yemen.

On Tuesday, Houthi separatists took control of the strategic Yemeni port city of Hodeida, west of the capital, Sana’a. They captured the airport to the south of the city on the same day. This came after the September 21 Houthi takeover of Sana’a itself.

The Houthi, Zaidi Shi’a (one of the Shi’a sects), have enjoyed the close support in recent years of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its al-Quds Brigades, responsible for foreign theaters.

This should arouse worry in Israel. Yemen, due to its strategic location, commands what for Israel is a strategic waterway — the exit from the Rea Sea to the Indian Ocean, also known as Bab al-Mandab. The presence of Revolutionary Guards forces on such a critical shipping lane for the Israeli economy, facilitating access not only to the Indian Ocean but also to targets like Iran itself, could present significant problems for Israeli ships passing through. At the beginning of the 1970s, Palestinian terror groups attacked Israeli ships that passed through Bab al-Mandab. It is possible that the Iranians will try to use the same tactics with the Houthis.

But beyond the Israeli angle, developments in Yemen in recent weeks, and indeed since the  beginning of the Arab Spring there, are a classic example of the shifting sands in the Middle East.

In November 2011, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh quit after 33 years. He was one of the longest-serving leaders in the Middle East, similar to Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. They were the same age, and the lynch that killed Qaddafi in 2011 was, it seems, one of the factors that led to Saleh stepping down on his own accord. In his place, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi was appointed president.


Yemeni politician Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak during a visit to the Shiite rebel stronghold of Saada,  September 19, 2014. photo credit: AFP/MOHAMMED HUWAIS)

Yemeni politician Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak during a visit to the Shiite rebel stronghold of Saada, September 19, 2014. photo credit: AFP/Mohammed Huwais)


But for the Houthi, this personal change was not enough. They wanted a bigger slice of the government pie, and, likely with Iranian encouragement, they sought to take over the country, as they are still attempting to do now. In recent months, the Houthi have recorded significant military achievements, the most important being the capture of Sana’a. They managed to take over government offices and other strategic facilities, and then agreed to stop fighting — but only if a new government made up of technocrats was appointed.

President Hadi, with UN mediation, agreed. But when he tried to appoint one of his associates, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, as prime minister, he was met with a strident refusal on the part of the Houthi.

Meanwhile, the Sunni extremists operating throughout Yemen, especially al-Qaeda, did not look favorably upon this assertion of power by the Zaidi Shi’ites, who make up about 30% of the country’s population. Last Thursday, during a Houthi demonstration against the appointment of bin Mubarak, a suicide bomber detonated himself in the crowd marching in Sana’a, killing 47. This development caused President Hadi to withdraw from his plan to appoint bin Mubarak, and only on Monday did all the parties agree to the appointment of the former Yemeni ambassador to the UN, Khaled Baha, as the new prime minister.

But then came the next day’s events — the occupation of Hodeida — which knocked everything back to square one. And if that wasn’t enough, on the same day, southern separatists demonstrated in cities in the south, notably Aden, demanding independence and the recreation of the People’s Republic of South Yemen.

It is uncertain where Yemen is heading. What is clear, however, is that in the shadow of attacks and massacres from the Islamic State, the Shi’ite axis headed by Iran is not resting for a moment. During the Houthi demonstrations, passwords appeared that sounded like they were taken directly from the Iranian Islamic Revolution’s phrasebook: “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews.”


Armed Yemeni Shiite Hawthi anti-government rebels shout slogans as they man a checkpoint erected after the Hawthi group seized northern districts of the capital Sanaa on September 21, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/MOHAMMED HUWAIS)

Armed Yemeni Shiite Houthi anti-government rebels shout slogans as they man a checkpoint erected after the group seized northern districts of the capital of Sana’a on September 21, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Mohammed Huwais)


Many of the participants probably don’t even know where Israel is. But Iran’s influence goes well beyond slogans, and the Saudis are anxiously keeping an eye on the developments to the south. Riyadh knows that the Iranians have transferred weapons to the Houthi, and it is trying to help foil the smuggling from Iran to northern Yemen. Revolutionary Guards forces were caught by the Yemeni army during the fighting, and the Saudis are worried that the new Iranian expedition will try to produce unrest in their Shi’ite areas.

So while the American (and Israeli) media focuses almost obsessively on the maps of IS’s takeover, “moderate” Iran is succeeding with a little less noise to gain control over even larger chunks of territory: Lebanon, parts of Syria and Iraq, and now Yemen.

Next month, six months of talks over the Iranian nuclear program will end, likely without a major breakthrough. But even without nuclear weapons, it looks like the Iranians are doing just fine.

The Islamic State’s changing tactics

And now to the Sunni threat. IS, despite aerial attacks by the Americans and their coalition partners, is not stopping. True, its rate of progress is not as rapid as in the good old days of Mosul, but it is still capturing parts of Kobani.

How is it possible that even the mighty air power of several armies, led by the US, cannot defeat IS?

The answer, it seems, lies in the tactical level.


A Syrian Kurd gestures as thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting continued between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State forces, on Monday, October 13, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

A Syrian Kurd gestures as thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria, as fighting continued between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State forces, on Monday, October 13, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)


IS commanders understood that their convoys of Toyota 4x4s are easy prey for American drones and planes, and so they changed their method of transportation. They are able to reach their destinations, but not in such an open manner, using motorcycles and private cars. They also left their black garb in Iraq, along with their identifying flags.

Second, they are using various methods to foil the aircrafts’ ability to target them, including burning hundreds of tires in order to create thick smoke above battle areas.

Third, and this might be the most problematic for the Americans, the moment IS forces enter urban environments, US pilots — especially those flying fighter jets (as opposed to attack helicopters) — are having trouble distinguishing between friend and foe without direction from the ground. But there is no intention to fix this. US President Barack Obama’s decision not to put boots on the ground, as understandable as it is politically, makes it difficult for the coalition forces.

In order to create targets, intelligence is needed. And without the presence of intelligence personnel and special forces on the ground, there is not sufficient information, it turns out, to stop the advance of IS.


Police used tear gas and water cannon on October 8, 2014 in Ankara to disperse demonstrators protesting against the attacks launched by Islamic State insurgents targeting the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobani by the Kurds, and the lack of action by their government. (Photo credit: AFP/ADEM ALTAN)

Police use tear gas and water cannon in Ankara on October 8, 2014, to disperse demonstrators protesting against the attacks launched by Islamic State insurgents targeting the Syrian town of Kobani by the Kurds, and the lack of action by their government. (photo credit: AFP/Adem Altan)


Finally, a word about the allies America chose for herself in the Middle East — Qatar and Turkey — is necessary. They both finance Hamas, and Doha, at least, has helped IS members in the past on one level or another. It’s hard to believe, but the current administration in Washington chose these two countries as partners within the framework of its policy of rapprochement with Arab and Muslim countries generally.

This week, National Security Adviser Susan Rice praised Ankara’s decision to allow coalition aircraft to use Turkish airports to attack IS targets. Ankara immediately denied the claim. Furthermore, on Monday, Turkish aircraft attacked the Kurdish underground in southeast Turkey. The only place from which it is possible to transfer supplies to the beleaguered Kurds in Kobani is the Turkish border. But the leaders in Ankara reject this possibility out of hand.

It seems that saving their brothers in Gaza is more urgent.