Sanctions imposed by the US on the Islamic Republic have failed to deter the Tehran regime from attempting to empower and embolden its proxies, terror and militia groups. This is due to the fact that sponsoring terrorism has been a consistent strategy and core pillar of the regime’s foreign policy since it was established in 1979.
On Dec. 7, the US Department of Justice announced the largest seizure of Iranian weapons to date after the US Navy stopped two vessels in the Arabian Sea during a routine security operation. The weapons included 171 guided anti-tank missiles, eight surface-to-air missiles, land attack cruise missile components, anti-ship cruise missile components, and other parts for missiles and drones.
The weapon shipments were most likely orchestrated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC is designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department, and is the backbone of the clerical establishment in Iran, largely controlling the country’s economic and ideological centers.
Senior cadres of the IRGC enjoy the final say when it comes to Tehran’s domestic foreign policy and support for proxies. The IRGC is also engaged in domestic repression of dissidents and imprisonment of opponents, as well as suppression of freedom of speech, press and assembly.
The Washington office of the opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran previously released a 175-page book, entitled “The Rise of the Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire,” in which it reveals that the IRGC controls more than half of Iran’s economic output and owns major economic powerhouses, as well as religious endowments, such as Astan-e Quds Razavi, in the northeastern city of Mashad.
Furthermore, the group published another detailed book on 15 terrorist training centers in Iran, where the IRGC provides ideological, military and tactical training to foreign recruits, who are later dispatched to countries in the Middle East and beyond to conduct terrorist activities.
The large shipments of weapons, which were headed to the Houthis in Yemen, is yet another violation of UN Resolution 2140, which was adopted by the Iranian regime. Unfortunately, the UN Security Council has remained silent, most likely because it does not want to scuttle hopes of reviving the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
Meanwhile, the Houthis have been fortunate to have Iran as such a powerful ally. Their Iranian backers will not let them run out of ammunition. The Iranian government continues to be persistent in smuggling illicit weapons and technology into Yemen.
This also ought to offer an insight into the tactics and long-term strategies of Iranian-trained and armed proxies across the Middle East. Their plans and agenda appear to be built on four pillars: Destabilization, conflict, assassination and the rejection of any solution that has Sunni or Western origins.
It should be mentioned that the conflict in Yemen means more to the Iranian regime than merely taunting its Gulf rivals. Rather, it seems to be an ideological endeavor to unite the Muslim world under its own Islamist rule, one that sees any attempts at peace as merely delaying the process.
The Iranian regime uses a variety of methods to smuggle weapons. Several Iranian ships carrying weapons to the Houthis have been intercepted previously. Iran also uses its commercial airlines, such as Mahan Air, to smuggle arms to Lebanon and Syria as well.
Without coordinated pressure from the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, the Iranian regime will not alter one of its core fundamentals, which is sponsoring and arming terror and militia groups across the Middle East.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
According to former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon: “The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights. These planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah.”
One of the Iranian leaders’ main objectives in empowering their militias and terror groups in other countries is to export the Islamic Republic’s revolution to other nations. In fact, this mission is part of Iran’s constitution, and its preamble states that the constitution “provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution at home and abroad.”
The document goes on to say that Iran’s military and IRGC “will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of (Shiite) jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s (Shiite) law throughout the world in the hope that this century will witness the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others.”
In a nutshell, without coordinated pressure from the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, the Iranian regime will not alter one of its core fundamentals, which is sponsoring and arming terror and militia groups across the Middle East.
- Dr. Majid Rafizadeh